Key crime tax supporter backs off

Mecklenburg County commissioner Dumont Clarke told colleagues tonight he will no longer pursue a quarter-cent increase to the local sales tax to raise money for crime.

Commissioners voted 5-to-3 last week to declare their intent to ask voters for the sales tax increase this November.

Clarke had suggested the tax increase last month after residents called on city and county leaders to do more to improve safety in the community.

But Clarke said he is backing off the proposal because of some resistance in the community, and because he and county staff didn't think state lawmakers would take up the issue during their short session, which is currently underway.

Clarke had wanted lawmakers to approve letting the county write on the ballot that they would use any money raised by the sales tax for crime-fighting efforts. Counties are allowed to seek the quarter-cent sales tax, but the money must go into a general fund.