Yet, last fall, after finally winning the right to give voters the opportunity to approve either a land transfer fee increase or a sales tax increase, Durham County commissioners declined to put either on the ballot. And this year, after what i've been told was a 15 year effort to change Representative Paul Luebke's mind*, Durham County Commissioners are ready to put a 1% prepared meals tax on the ballot. Trouble is, many of our elected officials don't seem especially eager to support it, in face of public opposition from the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.
Here's the question. If you're not willing to ask the voters to approve new taxes after a decade or more of complaining that you don't have sufficient revenues available, why should i believe you when you say you don't have the money to build more shelters and benches at our bus stops, to choose just one item from the scores of necessities that Durham neglects. Is it really a matter of revenue, or is it more the utter lack of leadership necessary to do the things that need doing in our city? That point is not so much that we need this tax or that tax enabled, the point is that our elected officials cannot continue to make the claim that their hands are tied by the lack of resources available to them, and then expect us to believe them when they're not willing to follow through when it comes time to make a difference in increasing those resources.
* Local governments in North Carolina do not have independent taxing authority. They need authorizing legislation from the state to enact new taxes. By custom, if the local delegation from the municipality or county does not unanimously support the request, it won't even be taken up in the legislature. As it stood, even with Rep. Luebke dropping his opposition, passing the legislation to put the tax on the ballot was only narrowly passed.