Edgcombe voters approve ECC sales tax referendum

By Jim Holt

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Edgecombe County voters narrowly approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase Tuesday.

The funds generated from the tax will be used toward the construction of two additions to Edgecombe Community College.

That money will be used to build a Biotechnology and Simulation Center on the college’s Rocky Mount campus and a Workforce Training Center on the college’s Tarboro campus.

Of the 23,483 total votes cast, 11,922 – or 50.77 percent – supported the tax hike while 11,561 – or 49.23 percent – were against it.

“We are extremely grateful for the support we have been shown here. Even though it was a narrow victory, we are well aware citizens are concerned about an increase in taxes and maybe a bit unclear on how the community college receives its funding,” Edgecombe Community College President Dr. Deborah Lamm said. “This is our only option. We are grateful and very appreciative, and we will be good stewards of the funds from the quarter-cent tax.”

The 45,000-square-foot Biotechnology Center will house 12 of the college’s 22 health sciences programs as well as provide the students with realistic training opportunities through a medical and environmental health technology laboratory.

The 24,000-square-foot Workforce Training Center will feature large training rooms designed for EMT, fire and rescue and law enforcement training.

Lamm said a dedicated industry work cell in the new facility will enable new industry in Edgecombe County to start out operating on a small scale while their permanent sites are being constructed elsewhere.

“In a down economy, the community colleges step up to the plate and train people and prepare them for jobs and careers,” Lamm said. “Edgecombe Community College has continued to be that lifelong partner with the county’s citizens and industries. The citizens know that, and we do have enormous support from those in Edgecombe County.”

While every person who purchases a product in Edgecombe County will be subjected to the quarter-cent sales tax, purchases of food, gas, motor vehicles and agricultural machinery are exempt.

The tax will not necessitate any increase in property taxes or additional taxes added to food purchases.

For the past few months, Edgecombe Community College

Lamm said the next steps are finalizing the construction plans.

“Our first priority is the facility in Rocky Mount. We have that complete through the design phase, but we need to get the schematics in place,” Lamm said.