County puts sales-tax increase back on ballot

Staff report

ELIZABETHTOWN — Despite an 0-for-3 batting average over the past few years, a majority of the Bladen County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to put a resolution on the November ballot that will ask registered voters to pass a quarter-cent sales tax increase.

In the past, the sales tax referendum has been ear-marked for education or to lower the property taxes in the county. Each time, the referendum went down in flames at the hands of voters.

For this go-round, commissioners voted 5-3 to funnel the added sales tax to EMS in an effort to help pay for salaries and equipment. Although Commissioners Delilah Blanks, Arthur Bullock and Michael Cogdell had previously debated with the rest of the board that additional funding was necessary for EMS, the three said they would again not support the November referendum.

In addition, Horace Munn, who was representing the Bladen Improvement PAC, also said the organization would not support the referendum — stating instead that money should be taken away from the county’s home health budget line item and shifted to EMS. The BIPAC has campaigned against each of the previous three referendums, as well.

In other action:

— The board held a second public hearing on the proposed 2016-17 fiscal year budget for economic development, but nobody chose to speak. During the first public hearing, Mayor Perry Blanks of East Arcadia requested $50,000 to help construct a park. The total cost of the park is estimated at more than $1 million.

— Commissioners were thanked by both Bladen County Schools Sup’t. Robert Taylor and Bladen Community College Board of Trustees Chairman Dennis Troy for the board’s financial support.

— The board was presented with the Covenant of the Seven Seals award for their support of active duty personnel as well as guard and reservists. The award was presented to the county by Lt. Col. (retired) Roy Allen and Darrell Page.

Staff report

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