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Wrightsville Beach mayor, school board chair disagree on sales tax increase plan

READ MORE: Wrightsville Beach mayor, school board chair disagree on sales tax increase plan
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposed sales tax increase to help fund public education has made her unpopular with many voters. However, mayors throughout the state, including a few in our area are banning together in support of the tax increase.

Perdue claims the state budget cuts by the Republican-controlled legislature has hurt education, and this proposed sales tax increase is the answer. Now mayors, including Mayor David Cignotti of Wrightsville Beach have come together issuing an open letter asking people in the state to support the plan.

"You have to invest in the present for the future," Cignotti said.

Cignotti is one of more than 50 mayors throughout the state who are pulling together in support of Perdue's plan to increase the sales tax by 3/4 of a cent.

"The dropout rate in North Carolina, let alone our nation is very high and I believe we need to do all we can to support education," he said.

Don Hayes, chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Education, says now is the wrong time for any type of tax increase.

"I personally would not be in favor of a tax increase at this time," Hayes said. "I think the economy being in the condition that it's in, to me it's not a good time to be raising taxes."

The tax increase would raise as much as $750 million over one year for education. Mayor Cignotti says every little bit would help.

"I believe a slight increase in the sales tax is the most reasonable way to support education in a time like this with the economy being as difficult as it is," Cignotti said.

Hayes says the sales tax would do more harm than good.

"Certainly I'm an advocate for education, but also I think we have to look at the overall economy of the people in this state," Hayes said. "Parents and many people are having it very difficult."

"I understand the economy is difficult, but I believe we're doing ourselves more damage if we don't prepare our young people to compete in the world today, then our nation's future is in jeopardy," Cignotti said.

The increase would raise the sales tax in most counties from 6.75 percent to 7.5 percent. New Hanover County would go from seven to 7.75 percent, because of a countywide 0.25-percent sales tax approved in 2010.

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