Referendum is necessary for the future

Let us first say that we are a lot like you when it comes to taxes. We don’t like them. But we are also resigned to the fact that they are necessary if we want the services and quality of life they are designed to bring us.

Which brings us to a taxing situation that we can actually cheer for.

The Scotland County Board of Commissioners this week approved placing a quarter-cent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot. If approved by voters, the estimated $700,000 per year raised would be used for the construction and operation of a new recreation and community center.

For most logical thinking people, that’s pretty hard to argue against. Recreation is one of the few key ingredients most folks who research a new community for business and/or residence look at, so good recreational and community spaces seems to be a no-brainer.

But then, of course, there is Laurinburg Mayor Matthew Block, who seems to enjoy looking for any opportunity to lead a fight against, well … anything positive.

Block spent a portion of his time this week on WLNC radio spouting his disagreement about the sales tax referendum, the county commissioners as a whole and the potential county run recreation and community center. His argument centers around three main areas: the referendum is doomed from the start because of a history state wide on such votes; that the focus of the sales tax should instead be on lowering property taxes; and that county officials are merely using the referendum for recreation so, when it fails, they can tell their constituents that voters don’t care about recreation.

He also claims that a county run recreation and community center won’t be as good for Laurinburg residents as one run by the city could be.

We will let Block’s words speak for themselves, instead turning our focus on the referendum itself.

Of all the potential ways local government has for taxing its residents, a sales tax is perhaps the fairest of all — and will benefit the county in ways property or other taxes can’t. That’s because a quarter-cent sales tax would be paid by every single person who makes a purchase in Scotland County — residents, travelers, visitors … everyone.

Let’s take a recent five-day stretch here in Laurinburg, when the city hosted the Dixie Softball State Champio0nships. More than 2,500 visitors came here and bought meals, stayed in hotels, purchased gas, shopped in stores, etc. According to most estimates, the event brought about $750,000 to the local economy. If the quarter-cent sales tax were already in place, those 2,500 visitors would have put approximately $1,875 more into the county coffers for the project.

That’s a nice chunk of change.

Yes, the referendum is a vote about a tax. But who will honestly even notice a quarter-cent rise in sales tax? A $10 purchase that now generates 67.5 (rounded to 68) cents in sales tax would instead require 7 cents in sales tax. Just two shiny pennies.

Although there are many good reasons to approve the quarter-cent sales tax referendum in November, we will leave you with perhaps the best of all: If Block is against it, it must be a good thing to vote for.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“In my view, wholesome pleasure, sport and recreation are as vital to this nation as productive work and should have a large share in any budget.” (Walt Disney)