johnson chowan visit 1

State schools Superintendent Mark Johnson (right) prepares to present a $15 million check for a new school to Edenton-Chowan Schools Superintendent Michael Sasscer and John A. Holmes High Principal Stephen Wood, during a surprise presentation in the school’s gymnasium, Wednesday.

EDENTON — The Edenton-Chowan Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously recently to endorse voter passage of a quarter-cent sales tax referendum on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Chamber Executive Director Win Dale said a quarter-cent increase in Chowan's sales tax is a small price to pay for county residents to get a new school.

“While tax increases are mostly unpopular with voters, we felt that if the county commissioners were going to devote the proceeds of this increase to the new school, it was a cause worth supporting,” he said.

Dale described a quarter-cent tax increase as "minuscule in the scheme of things" and said it "will hardly be noticed by consumers."

"Plus, the burden (will be) shared by all residents and visitors that spend money in the community, and not just property owners,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Chowan Board of Commissioners agreed to put the sales tax hike referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot. According to county officials, the quarter-cent increase, if approved by voters, would generate an additional $300,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the county.


Commissioners also adopted a non-binding resolution stating their intent to spend the additional sales tax revenue on a new school to replace John A. Holmes High School.

“Myself and the Edenton-Chowan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors fully endorse the proposed sales tax increase for (John A. Holmes High School),” Chamber President Amber Hardy said. “We were supporters of the high school project from the start and are happy to see this through. We encourage all voters to please follow suit and check yes, too. It’s for our kids. It’s for our community.”

The new John A. Holmes High School project got another shot in the arm this week when state Superintendent of Schools Mark Johnson surprised local school officials with a $15 million check in state Education Lottery proceeds. The funding will go toward the cost of building a new high school to replace the county's aging high school, officials said.

The proposed quarter-cent tax would not be applied to the sale of prescription drugs, unprepared foods (groceries), gas, vehicles, or property.

Edenton Town Council also adopted a resolution in support of the sales tax increase in July. Council has invited Edenton-Chowan Schools Superintendent Michael Sasscer to present an update on the high school project and to explain how the funds will be used.

The Edenton-Chowan Chamber of Commerce is preparing a resolution of support for the sales tax referendum for presentation to county commissioners.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com