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Richfield backs sales tax increase

The Richfield Town Council has joined a growing number of government figures supporting a sales tax referendum on this year’s ballot.

If approved by voters in November, the quarter cent increase (the equivalent of 1 cent per $4 spent) is pledged toward Stanly County Schools, representing about $1.5 million a year for the school system.

“It just makes sense to do it that way,” said Richfield Councilman Terry Almond.

Unlike property taxes, sales taxes are paid by tourists and visitors that stop in the county, he argued, which means the expense is more widely distributed than a property tax increase.

In fact, one penny in Stanly County property tax generates close to $470,000, county staff report, while one-fourth of a penny in sales tax is projected to raise around $1.5 million.

“Why should landowners alone have to foot the bill for education, when you have people coming through the county, spending money … that could help with that?” Almond said.

Moreover, five of the six counties around Stanly already have a a higher sales tax rate than Stanly County, Councilman Jim Misenheimer added. Stanly’s rate is currently $6.75 per $100 spent, but Anson, Cabarrus, Davidson, Montgomery and Rowan counties all have a rate of $7 per $100.

“It’s not like we’d be paying a lot more than everybody around here,” Misenheimer said. “It’s just a difference of a quarter of a cent.”

Despite those arguments, though, the quarter cent sales tax referendum has a hard time gaining momentum in Stanly. Over the past four years, it has been on the ballot four times (each time earmarked for education or emergency services).

But it has never passed.

“We’ve got to keep getting the word out … I’m telling everybody I come across to support it,” said Zach Almond, a county commissioner candidate who will be on the ballot along with the quarter cent sales tax referendum this November. “I don’t know of any candidate that isn’t for it.”

Both he and Michael Lambert, who is also running for county commissioner, came to Richfield’s last meeting and both spoke in favor of the sales tax increase.

Current county commissioners and other municipal officials have also voiced support on the matter.

But only time will tell how it will fare.

“I guess we’ll see what happens this go around,” Almond said.