State senator disappointed with county commissioners - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

State senator disappointed with county commissioners

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

State leaders are now speaking out against Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners' decision to have a referendum to raise the sales tax throughout the county to handle teacher raises.

If approved Mecklenburg County would have the largest sales tax in the state. It is estimated $35 million could be generated to support yearly teacher raises.

"I'm disappointed," State Senator Joel Ford said. "The commissioners approved that right away."

Ford believes commissioners should have spent more time putting the pressure on state lawmakers to tackle teacher compensation.

"I would have liked to have seen the county commissioners be a little more demanding," Ford said. "And forceful from Raleigh to make sure they get an answer, before they issue an increase in sales tax."

Ford is also concerned about how the county has decided to split the tax money between libraries, Central Piedmont Community College, and the Arts and Science Council.

"It sends a mixed message to the voters," the state senator said. "If you are going to sell this as a teacher pay increase, then that's what it should be about. I understand balancing our communities but let's place our teachers first and let's make them a priority."

Ford told WBTV he will talk to county commissioners about their decision and inform them what it will mean. Ford also believes because of this referendum, state lawmakers could step in a craft legislation that would limit how much county governments can tax taxpayers.

County commission Dumont Clarke had no comment about this story. Commissioner Vilma Leake did.

She told WBTV she believes Ford should have said something before the vote. She also wonders what Ford is doing in Raleigh to support teacher raises.

Voters head to the polls in November to decide if they want their sales tax to go up.

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