Sales tax for schools goes down in Swain

Swain County voters shot down a quarter-cent sales tax increase that would have funded school construction by a 3-to-1 margin. 

The optional sales tax increase would have brought in roughly $250,000 a year and would have paid for a $2 million expansion of East Elementary to solve overcrowding. 

But, there was no concerted effort to inform voters on what the additional quarter cent was for. School leaders admitted the week before the election that the failure to get the message out would likely sink its chances of passing. 

In fact, many voters, including 24-year-old Pelle Rudstam, who had recently moved to the area, didn’t know anything about the sales tax and so voted against it — but likely would have even if he knew it was for schools. 

“I don’t particularly agree with sales taxes,” Rudstam said, adding that sales taxes are harder on poorer people than other types of taxes. 

Emily Shuler, a mom from Bryson City, said she voted against it simply because she did not want to pay more in taxes. 

“It doesn’t need to go up,” Shuler said. 

The tax would have also helped pay for a new high school down the road. Since the quarter cent sales tax did not pass, the county’s only options to pay for needed school construction are a property tax increase or budget cuts. 

 

Swain County quarter-cent sales tax 

DO YOU SUPPORT AN ADDITIONAL QUARTER-CENT SALES TAX? 

No..........................................3,702 (73.7%)

Yes.........................................1,321 (26.3%) 

The county pledged to use the sales tax for school construction if approved. 

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