Mecklenburg County leaders relieved to keep sales tax revenues

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio
Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio

Mecklenburg County leaders are relieved after state lawmakers brokered a long-awaited budget agreement that won’t affect sales tax revenues in the state’s largest moneymaker.

County Manager Dena Diorio told the board of county commissioners Tuesday night that the two-year compromise, unveiled this week, leaves sales tax revenues generated in Mecklenburg and other urban centers in the state intact. To benefit rural counties, the budget expands the tax base, applying a sales tax for the first time to car repairs and appliance installations.

Under the original plan, sales tax revenue would have been redistributed from counties where it’s generated and spread to the state’s more rural counties, potentially costing Mecklenburg up to $200 million over four years. Diorio feared the county would have to raise the property tax rate or reduce services to adapt.

On Tuesday, commissioners praised the Mecklenburg County lawmakers who opposed the plan. Board Chair Trevor Fuller, who had been a vocal critic of the sales tax change, said the Senate’s budget provides a solution but doesn’t resolve economic inequity statewide.

“We still need to work on the problem of how we spread economic activity and opportunity across North Carolina,” he said. “We do not perceive (Mecklenburg County) as deserving special treatment. We think economic opportunity should flow to everyone in N.C.”

The House is expected to vote on the agreement Friday. Diorio said county leaders are hopeful the terms of the deal will stand.

Jonathan McFadden: 704-358-6045, @JmcfaddenObsGov