A public records request was made on March 23 for emails to and from Watauga County Commissioners and any other documents related to the discussion of and decision about the March 15 rescinding of the resolution to hold a public referendum in Watauga County on the question of a quarter-cent sales tax increase
1. Feb. 25-26, 2011 – at their “pre-budget retreat,” Watauga County Commission gets a good look at funding pressures for the 2012 budget
2. March 1, 2011 – less than 70 hours after the “pre-budget retreat,” the Republican majority on the Watauga County Commission adopt a resolution to hold a public referendum on a quarter-cent sales tax increase, on a vote of 3-1, with Democratic Commissioner Tim Futrelle dissenting (Democratic Commissioner Jim Deal was absent). The Commission notifies the Watauga County Board of Elections to prepare for a referendum and schedules
a public hearing on the resolution for March 15 (though a public hearing is not required, especially as the Commission has already passed its resolution)
3. March 7, 2011 – the Boone Tea Party, in an e-mail to 200+ members, endorses the tax increase, which is followed by some significant dissent within the group
4. March 9, 2011 – the Media Committee of the Watauga County Republican Party writes and submits a column supporting the sales tax increase to the Watauga Democrat, which is published, after the Committee has run the text by Commission Chair Nathan Miller. The column makes a strong case for the need for a tax increase to save 69-plus teacher positions due to anticipated state budget cuts.
5. March 15, 2011 – following the public hearing, where a lop-sided majority spoke in favor of a sales tax increase “to save public education,” and after the public had mainly exited the meeting, the Republican commissioners completely reversed course and voted to rescind the resolution they had voted on just two weeks prior ... on a vote of 3-2, with both Democratic commissioners dissenting.
Email traffic to and from the Republican members of the County Commission reveal what also happened between March 1 and March 15.