Petition circulating calling for library voter referendum

Published 11:11 am Friday, November 4, 2011

EURE – Gilbert Cherry said he isn’t happy that Gates County leaders allegedly ignored the wishes of local citizens and are proceeding with building a new library.

But instead of sitting back and complaining, Cherry is instead taking action.

Cherry is currently circulating a petition throughout the county that calls for local government officials to conduct a voter referendum based on the following (listed near the top of the petition):

“We the concerned citizens of Gates County, North Carolina petition against the needless spending of taxpayer money on a new library. The citizens are not against improving the library system in the county. However, we the taxpayers of Gates County are against the reckless spending of taxpayer money when the citizens do not have any input and without allowing the citizens to decide the amount and/or the financing mechanism.”

Cherry said the Gates County Voter Referendum is based upon North Carolina General Statute 153A-149. Subsection C of that statute reads, “Each county may levy property taxes for one or more of the purposes listed in this subsection up to a combined rate of one dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) appraised value of property subject to taxation. Authorized purposes subject to the rate limitation are… include to establish and maintain public libraries (one of the 48 stated purposes covered by this statute).

“I never paid much attention to local politics, but I just happened to be at the meeting (Oct. 4) where they voted on spending the money for the (library) architect,” Cherry said. “I was appalled over the way it was handled. It wasn’t handled right.”

He continued, “Everybody complains and complains and does nothing about it…so I decided to do something.

This petition is going over very, very big. I’ve gotten pages and pages full of signatures.”

Cherry, who owns and operates Gilbert’s Body Shop and Wrecker located in the White Oak community along US 158 near Gatesville, said he launched his petition drive on Oct. 19.

“I still haven’t gotten them out countywide as of yet, but the response has been great so far,” he said.

Once the effort to collect signatures is over, Cherry is required to turn those sheets in to the Gates County Board of Elections. That entity is required to verify that all signatures are those of registered voters in the county.

“I talked to the Sheriff to make sure this petition drive was legal. I want to do everything the right way. Everyone I’ve talked to is saying they’re glad I’m doing this. I’m just a concerned citizen,” Cherry said.

He admitted that while the county’s leaders have not said anything about raising taxes to pay for the new library, he feels that fact is inevitable.

“Our taxes will have to go up if they keep throwing away money,” Cherry stressed. “There are some other things coming up as well, including fixing up the old courthouse, that will add to what the county will spend.

“I feel the county commissioners work for us but we didn’t have any say-so in this and I feel that’s wrong. I’m not trying to make people mad, I’m just trying to wake them up. I feel there’s something wrong with politics in this county, they’re not listening to the citizens. Before we spend $1.5 million that needs to be brought before the citizens to vote on,” Cherry concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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