School bond and tax elections in North Carolina

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School bond and tax elections in North Carolina happen under one circumstance:

Laws affecting school finance

Constitutionally mandated debt limits

North Carolina, along with Ohio and Oklahoma have mandated debt limits for school districts that are protected by their state constitution. Under the North Carolina Constitution, voter approval is mandatory in order for a school district to exceed the two-thirds debt limit for:

  • Funding/refunding an existing debt.
  • To close a gap caused by an revenue deficiency.
  • To meet a emergency declared by the Governor that could affect a school district.
  • For other provisions authorized by North Carolina law.

Note, in North Carolina no school district or local unit of Government can issue new debt if its against two-thirds of the school district's outstanding debt.[1]

North Carolina School Budget and Fiscal Control Act

North Carolina's school finance laws other than constitutionally mandated debt limits are listed under the North Carolina School Budget and Fiscal Control Act of 1975.

Under the law, all school districts are required to have a balanced budget. The law defines a balanced budget as when a sum of estimated net revenues and appropriated fund balances is equal to appropriations (spending). Appropriated fund balances cannot exceed the sum of cash and investments minus the sum of liabilities, encumbrances, and deferred revenues arising from cash receipts. A new budget resolution must be passed every year.[2]

All school budgets in North Carolina require approval from the local Board of Education and further approval from the Board of County Commissioners where the school district is located.[3] North Carolina, as with Tennessee requires county government approval for tax levies.

Also, North Carolina school districts must seek state approval for issuing new bonds, however an election is not required for approval of bond issues.[4]

Conduct of bond election, rules, etc.

Authority conducting elections

The respective County Elections Board is responsible for holding elections at the local level.[5]

Election dates

Under North Carolina law, elections involving school finance are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is considered the case as North Carolina law defines the election as nonpartisan and decided by simple plurality.[6].

Needed majority

A simple majority is needed to pass a election involving state mandated debt limits.[1]

Special elections

Under North Carolina laws, special elections can be held for school districts. The law requires that any school district calling for a special election must file a resolution with the County Elections Board. Elections can be held during a general or primary election, but they cannot be held 30 days before or 30 days after a general or primary election.[7]

Wording of measures

Under North Carolina law, there are no mandatory format or how long a ballot proposition should be on an official ballot. However, the law states all ballot propositions must be easy to understand by voters, presented in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner, uniform in content, and facilitates an accurate vote count. A 2013 House Bill also requires that all bond ballot issues or ballot questions authorizing indebtedness include an estimate of interest for the debt and explicitly say that taxes may be levied to repay the indebtedness.[8][9]

Required notice of bond election

45 days notice is required before a school district calls for a special election.[7] There is no mandatory notice requirement under North Carolina law for general or primary elections.

See also

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