The Eastgate Shell station on Wake Forest Road is a fitting place for Raleigh City Council District A candidate JB Buxton to bring attention to one of the worst provisions in the new state budget: the sales tax on auto repair, maintenance and installation services that will go into a fund to benefit the state’s rural counties.

The Shell is Buxton’s neighborhood gas station and auto shop, where he’s brought his vehicles in for service for 15 years. He says the new sales tax will directly impact this business and working families in District A, and that local taxpayers won’t see any of their money reinvested in Raleigh.

“(Legislators) are saying, let’s take the sales tax and send it directly out of the city,” Buxton said Wednesday. “Not only are they taxing folks, but we’re not seeing anything to support our own needs. It’s like, we pay for dinner and now they want us to throw in the tip. It will undercut the economic engines that are cities.”

The station’s owner-operator, Craig Robbins, said he is worried about what the sales tax will mean for his customers, “the guy that’s already paying sales tax on car parts, gas tax and property tax.”

“He’s already being taxed to death,” Robbins said. “We’ve never had to factor this into our business.”

Buxton says this budget move is just another example of the General Assembly’s lack of understanding of how cities like Raleigh drive the state’s economic vitality as a whole. The public education consultant and former Deputy Superintendent of the North Carolina school system points to the $60 million in UNC System cuts and increasing tuition at community colleges as another way the Legislature is undermining economic drivers and working people who are increasingly struggling to afford education.

Cities and counties in North Carolina are now under more pressure than ever to attract good teachers, Buxton says, and that while counties and school boards can look at boosting teachers’ salaries, cities need to start getting more proactive on policy issues like transit and education.

“Do we create affordable housing for teachers so they can teach closer to their communities, or create joint-use agreements with the Boys and Girls clubs and the Y’s (to help schools) deal with the student population,” he suggests. “Could we be a stronger leader in the Metro Mayors Coalition, to say these policies don’t work for us? How do we start planning?”