Opposition is mounting against a Nov. 8 referendum that would pave the way for a 0.25 percent sales-tax increase in Buncombe County to fund $129 million in building improvements at A-B Tech.
Robert Malt, executive director of the Sales Tax Opposition Partnership (STOP), recently spoke at an Asheville Tea Party meeting at the Skyland Fire Dept. and outlined his reasons to vote against it. Here’s the video of his talk (courtesy of Fremont Brown and Virgil Productions):
Malt and the Buncombe County Republican Party are in the process of waging a grassroots campaign to defeat the referendum.
“I think raising taxes in the middle of the second Great Depression is not a swift idea,” says Malt, who previously served a short stint in 2009 as the party chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party.
The current chair of the party, Henry Mitchell, agrees: “We’re opposed to any tax increase, especially during these hard economic times,” he says. “We fully support A-B Tech and what they do for the community. It’s an excellent school and the provide a good community service. But it’s just the fact that a sales-tax increase at this time is not a good thing for the economy and the local folks. We’re working to try to get people to vote against it.”
Malt says he’s been distributing fliers, yard signs and bumper stickers urging people to vote against the tax increase.
“We think most people are against this, and our biggest challenge is just letting people know that there’s a vote,” he says.
But some party leaders disagree, including former Asheville Mayor Lou Bissette, a Republican who’s serving as co-chair of the campaign to pass the tax.
“There’s a lot of activists out there who are very ideological in some way and they have very strong beliefs that taxes are not the way,” he says. “But I’ve come to the conclusion that if our community wants to educate our kids and provide jobs for this community, a quarter-cent sales tax is a way to do it. … I know for a fact that there are an awful lot of Republicans in this community that are supporting this referendum.”