Ballot measures could prove confusing to some voters
Updated: 08/10/2012 06:12 PM
By: Ed Scannell
GRAHAM, N.C.--Alamance County commissioners agreed in July to put a quarter-cent increase in the county sales tax on the November ballot to finance a new $15 million technology center at Alamance Community College. The price tag exceeds a state threshold, which means commissioners must also place a bond referendum for the project before voters.
Officials said the tax increase may be a tough sell and the need for passage of both ballot measures could prove confusing.
"(There are) 32 students trying to walk around and work in here,” said Marc Hunter, head of the automotive systems technology program. ”Very, very crowded."
Department heads at Alamance Community College's automotive, machining, HVAC, welding and carpentry programs said they've long outgrown their cramped facilities spread between two buildings. The Advanced Applied Technology Center would put the programs under one roof in a modern facility with nearly double the total space for instruction.
"Our classroom holds 24, so we have to cap at 24,” said Rodney Barber. “With the new facility we'll be able to handle 20 individual tables, so, we may able to go all the way up to 40."
Commissioner Eddie Boswell understands the need for the new center and hopes voters will, too, but Boswell said the requirement for voters to pass both the bond referendum and the sales tax increase to pay off the bonds could present a challenge.
"Hopefully it won't be confusing to the voters come November that it's a two-fold thing,” he said. “They vote for the bond and they vote for the quarter cent sales tax."
College president Martin Nadelman knows there may be an uphill battle to convince voters to approve the tax increase.
"I think they'll be positive to this piece,” he said. “I hope they understand this sales tax is a piece of what we need to get this building."
With the county's jobless rate at 10-percent, Barber said if voters realized the economic shot in the arm programs like his could have, they would give the nod to both measures.
"I'm excited about people getting jobs and getting back to work and being able to be a vital part of the community," he said.
Commissioners could vote to put the bond referendum on the November ballot when they meet August 20.
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