School Board votes to Support Wheel Tax

Board Breaks own Rules

By: Pat Hunter


At the beginning of Thursday's Loudon County School Board meeting,  School Director Edward Headlee requested that two items be added to the meeting agenda, a Resolution in support of the Wheel Tax and imposing students fees for high school students.


Chairman Bobby Johnson. Jr. brought up the Wheel Tax Resolution and then turned the matter over to School Director Headlee. Headlee said that he did not have the wording actually prepared for that Resolution but that he did not see a problem with the School Board adopting a similar Resolution in acknowledging support of the Wheel Tax.


Click to view video D-1 Loudon Board member Bill Marcus asked, are we at a point where we need someone to make a motion to do that. Marcus then motioned that the School Board provide a Resolution to send to the County Commission in support of the Wheel Tax for the Schools Capital Projects. The motion was seconded by Tellico Villager, D-7 Nancy Paule. 


The $147 Million School Building Capital Plan was adopted by the School Board but the plan has yet to be approved by the Loudon County Budget Committee and Loudon County Commission.


D-2 Scott Newman asked are we going to have it in writing that all the funds in the Wheel Tax will go to the schools? Someone said that the referendum does state that.


Click to view videoD-5 Freddie Walker inquired, when did this come up about putting the Wheel Tax on the agenda?  Chairman Bobby Johnson, Jr. replied,  "at the beginning of tonight." Walker commented that the Wheel Tax had not been discussed at Monday's workshop; Johnson replied, no, no. 


The Wheel Tax or Resolution was not placed on the regular meeting agenda and there was no public discussion at the School Board workshop meeting, three days earlier.


Additionally, Section 1 of the Loudon County Board of Educations Operations, 1.403 Policy states, "For a regular board meeting, the agenda (which shall include the consent agenda), together with supporting materials, shall be distributed to board members at least five (5) days prior to the scheduled date of the meeting..." Click to view: Agendas - Section 1 of the Board Operations, 1.403 Policy.  The policy may be found on the School on-line website.


Why did the School Board feel that they did not have follow their own rules and procedures since the Wheel Tax Resolution was supposed to be prepared 5 days prior to the regular meeting?


The School Board's latest actions just add fuel to the fire, which help boost concerns and questions about the Board's credibility! With no public discussion this also adds to Sunshine Law concerns, did some Board members discuss this matter amongst themselves, before the vote?


Bill Marcus made the motion to draft a Resolution in support of the proposed $50 wheel tax for the school building plan. All school board members voted yes with the exception of two “No” votes. The two no votes were from Freddie Gene Walker and Leroy Tate. Marcus’s motion for the Wheel Tax sailed with flying colors.    


Qualified voters will ultimately vote for or against the proposed $50 Wheel Tax, which will be placed on the August 7, Election ballot. Annual state vehicle registration fees cost about $24 plus another $50 for the wheel tax, which will bring the total to $74 per vehicle.


The news media is already calling Loudon County's proposed Wheel Tax, the highest in East Tennessee!


If the Wheel Tax is a good idea, the School Board should be willing to discuss this matter in public; what are they afraid of?


Our students must follow rules at school and on the bus. When the School Board sets rules and policies for students, staff and faculty and then the Board appears to break rules and policies, which the Board adopted, what kind of message does that send to our youth, community and educators?