By Lacy Hilliard
The county commissions recent decision to raise the wheel tax in an effort to stabilize the county budget has many residents questioning whether or not the unanimous vote is in the best interest of county residents. Though the raise is expected to pass, the commission is required to hold a secondary vote before the tax increase is officially approved.
Recently Greene County, Tennessee residents were faced with a similar decision as their county commission discovered a budget deficit of over 1.2 million dollars. Because of the shortfall, residents are faced with the possible closure of Glenwood Elementary School. To curb the deficit, Greene County residents voted on and rejected a proposed $20 wheel tax increase. The next step for the commissioners in Greene County is to vote on a property tax increase at their next meeting. The deficit and surrounding conflict mirrors that of Johnson Countys budget strife except for one noticeable difference; Johnson County residents were not given the opportunity to vote on the $10 wheel tax increase.
Because the original countywide vote in 1983 to enstate the wheel tax was a referendum, county commissioners have the right to decide whether or not to place subsequent votes before the people. Because of the stipulation, county commissioners hold the power to control the wheel tax vote. The same law applies in Greene County, where officials chose to allow residents to vote on the increase. However, in Johnson County the decision was made to allow only county commission members to vote for or against wheel tax increase. It is this decision that has some residents concerned that the increase is unfair.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.
By Lacy Hilliard