Forum to discuss school tax

Published 10:13 am Thursday, January 28, 2016

JACKSON – The Northampton County Board of Commissioners and the Northampton County Board of Education will hold a public forum later today (Thursday) from 6-7 p.m. at the Northampton County Wellness Center at 9536 NC Hwy 305 in Jackson.

The purpose of this forum is to address questions and/or concerns regarding the supplemental tax for building a new $34 million centralized middle/high school scheduled to appear on the March 2016 ballot.

The wording of the question to appear on the ballot is:

“Shall the County levy a supplemental tax on all taxable property in an amount not to exceed 9.92 cents per one hundred dollars in value of property to finance the construction of a centrally-located, consolidated middle-high school for the students of the Northampton County Schools and to pay other capital outlay construction needs of Northampton County Schools?

“[ ] For Local Tax [ ] Against Local Tax.”

Northampton voters have been seeing the deliberations for the proposal by the School Board to build a central middle/high school for over five years now.

The Board of Education (BOE) and the Board of County Commissioner (BCC) vigorously debated the issue for years before a mediator last year forced them to work together.

In August 2010 the commissioners voted unanimously to stop the process for putting what was then a $24 million bond referendum on the Nov. 2010 ballot.

They were reversing an April 2010 vote to proceed with process because debt limit concerns in the county budget and the overall state of the economy, which was still suffering from the 2008 national economic crash.

At the August 2010 meeting, Commissioner James Hester, the former vice chairman of the board, made the motion, “That the Northampton County Board of Commissioners stop all actions pertaining to placing a $24 million new high school referendum on the November ballot and further table the decision until a future date to be determined by this board of commissioners.”

In September 2012 the county’s two high schools merged as the Northampton High School at site of the former Northampton-East High School in Creeksville.

In January 2013 the BCC and the BOE held a joint meeting to discuss building a central high school. At that joint meeting, the two boards approved a process that would eventually lead to the matter being put to the voters for a verdict.

The matter never was put to the voters.

Earlier in 2015 the BOE and the commissioners were ordered by a mediator to hold another joint meeting.

From that meeting in July 2015, the two boards agreed to a plan to put a supplemental school tax on the 2016 ballot to fund what had by then ballooned to a $34 million project.

In late 2015, the BOE was seeking a $34 million bond referendum, but the commissioners, stuck to the joint agreement made by the two boards for a supplemental tax rather than a bond referendum.

A second public hearing on this matter is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 4, time and place yet to be determined.

Please contact the County Manager’s office, or go to their website ( to obtain a copy of the public forum comment sheet.