KNIGHTDALE: Teacher pay increases could be on Nov. ballot - WNCN: News, Weather

Wake Co. voters could decide whether to give teachers more money

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KNIGHTDALE, N.C. -

A decision to give teachers a raise could be in hands of voters this fall. Wake County mayors are drafting a resolution calling for a tax hike to be put on the November ballot.

The quarter-cent sales tax would specifically pay for teacher salaries, according to Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen. Killen said the mayors are not necessarily advocating for the increase, just the chance for voters to decide.

"It's a referendum. It's as democratic as it gets," he said.

The idea came after Mecklenburg and Guilford county commissioners who decided to let their voters decide on a similar tax.

"If Mecklenburg County and Guilford County both are paying teachers $2,000, $2,500 more than Wake County, we're at a serious competitive disadvantage. So, the mayors are concerned about that," Killen said.

William Womble, of Raleigh, initially opposed the idea of a tax hike, but his view changed when he learned it would help teachers.

"Well, if it pays the teachers and teachers are going to use the money like they say they're going to do it, then it would be all right," Womble said.

Monica Elston, of Raleigh, said she has worked as a teacher’s assistant and knows the struggle teachers face.

"I can tell you right now, it's a undeserved jobs. You've got to put up with a lot," Elston said. "If that's what they say they're going to raise the tax for -- not to line somebody's pockets or special interest group or something it's not supposed to be used for -- if you're going to help teachers and retain teachers in Wake County and North Carolina, OK, then that's fine."

Curtis Faison, of Raleigh, also agreed teachers need the extra support.

"I think that's a good idea because the teachers are noble profession," Faison said. "They're definitely overworked and underpaid. So, I think it's something that would be a good idea."

Killen said the mayors will take their resolution to Wake County Commissioners next month. If the tax is put on the ballot and approved by voters, it would likely be in place for the fiscal year that starts in July 2015.

As for this year, Wake County Commissioners just approved a budget that includes a $3.75 million increase to supplement teacher salaries.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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