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OPINION: Pennies For Transportation Will Travel A Long Way

By Bill Rivenbark, posted Oct 26, 2022
I voted yes to the transportation referendum.

We heard a lot from our residents that they wanted a better and safer way to move around our county. That’s why I voted as a commissioner back in May to put a referendum on the ballot that would allow residents to vote on a quarter-cent sales tax to fund public transportation and more trails and sidewalks. 

If you’re like me, anytime you hear the word tax it probably causes your eyebrow to raise a little bit. So I wanted to make sure I understood what this thing was, what it was going to be used for and how much it was going to cost before I asked the public to weigh in.  

The more I learned, the more I realized just how important this could be for our community. That’s why I voted to put it on the ballot so you could decide its future.  

The projects outlined in the first five years of this plan alone will help make things safer, more reliable, and more efficient for those who choose to walk, bike, or take Wave Transit in New Hanover County. This could make it possible for more drivers to leave their cars at home and move throughout our community in ways that have been difficult before. 

While I see a lot of folks running and biking, I also know a lot who don’t because the sidewalk or trail stops short of their destination or it’s unsafe to get where they want to go. And for a lot of people, Wave Transit is how they move throughout our community, but it can sometimes take a long time to get where they need to go or doesn’t run late enough for them to get back home from work.  

That could change for just pennies on the hundreds of dollars. You read that right.

When it says a quarter cent, that’s what it means. For every dollar someone spends, they would spend an additional quarter of a penny with this new tax. So if you spent $100 on new clothes, this tax would add an additional 25 cents if it’s approved.  

The sales tax wouldn't apply to most of the essential items you buy every day like gas, prescriptions and groceries. And this wouldn’t just be something residents pay for. The hundreds of thousands of visitors who come here would be contributing too.  

This small investment could make very big changes here in New Hanover County. Which is why it’s something I thought our citizens should consider.  

If you haven’t had a chance to learn about the projects that would be funded by this tax, please visit the Trails and Transit website. This is some of the information I learned before voting to put it on the ballot and it does a good job of showing what we can do if this is approved. It helped me make an informed decision and I think it will help you do the same.

Early voting has already started, and Election Day is Nov. 8. So make sure you have the facts before you head to the polls. 

Bill Rivenbark is a member of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and was born and raised in New Hanover County.  
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