New Hanover County launches education website on potential sales tax

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – A quarter-cent public transportation sales tax will be on the November 2022 ballot for New Hanover County citizens to vote on, and the county has created a website – TrailsTransitNHC.com – to provide educational information about the potential uses of the sales tax and why public transportation is important for the community.

The referendum for a quarter cent sales tax to be used for public transportation systems will appear as a Yes or No vote on the November 8 ballot. The purpose of the local tax would be to provide a dedicated source of revenue to expand and enhance our community’s networks for bicycling, walking, and public transportation. The tax would equate to approximately 25 cents per every $ 100 spent by visitors, commuters and residents, and the tax would not apply to items like groceries, fuel and prescriptions.

The goals of the tax would be to connect people to jobs and education; expand reliable and efficient bus service and on-demand transit; enhance trail connections and pedestrian safety; improve community health and positively impact the environment; leverage local dollars for more state and federal funds to improve public transportation and rail realignment; and plan for our community’s growth and future.

“Having personal mobility, being able to easily and safely get where you need to go, and creating a more walkable and bikeable community is important for the growth and health of our community,” said Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, Jr. who is helping to lead the education campaign for the sales tax. “The transportation sales tax could have a meaningful impact on residents, provide access where it doesn’t exist currently, and improve life in New Hanover County for everyone to move forward and go even further.”

Within the first five years of the sales tax, opportunities for improvement could include:

  • More than 10 miles of new multi-use trails, five additional sidewalks and nine improved intersections and crosswalks within the city and county, with additional bike and pedestrian connectivity projects in the beach communities that could also be funded.
  • Increased bus frequency so over half of Wave Transit’s routes come every 30-45 minutes, expanded hours for buses and microtransit by 16 hours each week, improved bus stops with 17 new benches, 10 new shelters, and signs at the 10 busiest stops to show real-time bus arrival times, new technology for rider access, and free youth passes.
  • Rail Realignment Project work on South Front Street to relocate part of the railroad track and make pedestrian improvements for greater transportation access.

“Having a dedicated source of funding would allow us to create a more efficient transportation system that runs more often and for longer hours so we can have more choice riders, take cars off the road, and ensure those who rely on the bus get the service and speed they need, ”Barfield continued. “It would provide more opportunities for residents who want to walk or ride a bike to easily connect to a bus stop, reach a business, or visit a quality-of-life asset like a park or library – bringing about greater connectivity, increased physical activity, and healthier lifestyles. And it gives the county and the city the opportunity to leverage funds for state and federal dollars for large, impactful projects like the realization of the railway. ”

If approved by voters in November and levied by the Board of Commissioners, the sales tax would be implemented in April 2023.

Additional information about potential projects from the transportation sales tax, frequently asked questions, and a project map can be viewed at TrailsTransitNHC.com.

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