Budget Committee dishes out

Loudon County Budget Committee members: (center) Budget Chairman, Mayor Doyle E. Arp -R; (clockwise) D-7 Tellico Village, Don Miller-R;  D-3 Greenback, Bob Franke -R; D-5 Eatons-Browder, Chris Park-R; Comm. D-1 Loudon, Nancy Marcus-R.

Double Tax Whammy!

Proposed Wheel Tax And 8-cent Property Tax Hike!

By: Pat Hunter

The Budget Committee also voted to recommend an 8-cent Tax Hike in addition to a proposed wheel tax. If approved by the full commission the county property rate would increase from $1.84 to $1.92. See related story Tax Hike.

On April 16, 2008, Roane County Commissioners voted down a proposed $47 Million School Building Plan in a 15 to 0 vote. Last year, the Roane County Board of Education submitted a proposal, which included the construction of two new schools, along with renovations and upgrades to schools throughout the district. The Roane County School Board had argued that the $47 Million School Building Plan was needed to address overcrowding and deteriorating school buildings throughout the school district; does this sound familiar? Roane County Commissioners requested that the School Board submit a less expensive plan. Considering these bad economic times, that makes good sense.

In stark contrast, the Loudon County Board of Education adopted a $144 Million School Building Plan but the Loudon County Commissioners didn't do as Roane County Commissioners and vote down the $144 Million School Building Plan.

Since the economy is in a decline and state budget shortfalls are now projected to be $500 Million, why didn't commissioners reassess this lofty school building program that taxpayers cannot afford? Why didn't commissioners request that the school board come up with an affordable school building plan? Commissioners spent $43,675 taxpayer monies for an independent Public Building Authority Study; the Study recommended a $47 Million school building plan, which could then be tailored to meet the needs of the schools. Both bodies, commission and school board are unwilling to compromise and work together.  

Instead, the Budget Committee is now recommending raising millions in new taxes, not with one but two proposed taxes, this year alone. These out of touch spend and tax officials are not sympathetic to the people of Loudon County who face poor economic times, spiraling fuel and food prices.

Budget Committee Votes for a Wheel Tax

 

On April 21, 2008, the Loudon County Budget Committee, discussed and voted to recommend a new wheel tax to the full commission. Commissioner Don Miller, a retired Exxon executive who now resides in Tellico Village, led the discussion about passing a wheel tax. Everyone will have to pay the wheel tax, it was said. The Budget Committee requested that Mayor Arp's attorney prepare all necessary paperwork including two Resolutions for the proposed Wheel Tax. With all the years that Mr. Miller has served as commissioner, one might think that he could easily pick up the telephone and consult with the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) consultant, CTAS attorneys or open the CTAS Manual with all the applicable Resolutions. CTAS provides assistance to local government, all free resources, rather than wasting taxpayer monies on the Mayor's attorney. Wasteful spending leads to tax hikes.

According to the CTAS Manual, a wheel tax may be levied by one of three methods:

  1. Option 1. By the passage of a Resolution by a two-thirds vote of the county legislative body at two consecutive regular county legislative meetings. The two thirds majority resolution method is subject to a referendum IF a Petition is signed by a number of registered voters equal to 10 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election and is filed with the county election within 30 days of passage. T.C.A. 5-8-102(b)(1). 
  2. Option 2. By passage of a Resolution by county commission by a regular majority with approval and referendum provided for in the Resolution. This method allows for the voters to decide the fate of a wheel tax, not the politicians.
  3. Option 3. And by private act.

Option 3, would require the cooperation of our elected state representatives and state senator, in order for the wheel tax to be imposed on the people of Loudon County. Source of wheel tax information: CTAS Commissioner Handbook, available on the internet http://www.ctas.utk.edu

Commissioners learn about the Wheel Tax

Commissioners were updated about the actions of the Budget Committee at the April 21, workshop meeting held later that evening. Other than an inaudible comment made by Comm. David Meers (Principle Highland Park), the other commissioners made no comments about the proposed wheel tax issue. The wheel tax information from Mayor Arp's attorney will be presented at the May 19th commission workshop meeting. 

The Budget Committee also requested that School Director Edward Headlee, Assistant Director Gil Luttrell and School Board members Bobby Johnson, Jr. and Larry Proaps, jump on the band wagon and help support and promote the proposed Wheel Tax.

(Picture: BOE Chairman Bobby Johnson, Jr. (standing), Gil Luttrell, asst. school director.) 

Wheel Tax Revenues Projections: $1.36 Million -$2.7 Million, Annually

At this time, the Budget Committee did not recommend a specific wheel tax rate but spoke in general terms about revenue stream projections. According to the latest data on 2007 Motor Vehicles Registrations, Loudon County has about 54,445 vehicles. A wheel tax could generate anywhere from $1.36 Million to $2.7 Million annually depending on the wheel tax rate.

General estimates:

$25 wheel tax would generate about $1,361,125 (million) est., annually.

$50 wheel tax would generate $2,722,250 (million), est. annually!

Compare other counties that have imposed a wheel tax and wheel tax rates:

Table 6 - 2008 Wheel tax data- CTAS    

Table 7 - 2007 Motor Vehicle Registrations - CTAS

 

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