|With a standing room only crowd, the Loudon County
Commission postponed votes on the two main issues that most of the
people were there to hear.
Hot topic number one was
Commissioner Nancy Marcus' recommendation to increase the employee's
share of the health insurance costs. Commissioners put off any
discussion of the topic till the June 16th work shop meeting.
Hot topic number two was the adoption of the 2008-2009 county budget
which would have ended the budget fight between the school board and the
commission. Commission has refused to give the board their four million
plus budget request instead offering them a little more than a million
new dollars. Commissioners postponed the budget vote till August at
which time it is expected the school board will have a better idea of
the state revenues which could have an impact on the county's funding.
Hot topic number three was the $50 wheel tax which
commissioners voted unanimously to place on the August ballot. If the
wheel tax passes, all of the revenues from the tax would be earmarked
for the schools.
More details when available.
Loudon considers $50 wheel tax
Hugh G. Willett, knoxnews.com
LOUDON - The Loudon County Commission voted unanimously Monday night to
put a $50 wheel tax initiative on the August ballot.
Money generated by the wheel tax would be totally devoted to the school
debt fund, said Commissioner Robert Franke.
Based on the number of registered vehicles in the county, the wheel tax
could raise more than $2 million per year for school improvements,
That amount would be sufficient to support a bond program in the range
of $20 million, enough to get the long-delayed school building program
off the ground, he said.
Opponents of the wheel tax, some who have taken to calling it the
"Tellico Village Relief Act," claim that the wheel tax gives a break to
county residents living in expensive homes and shifts the burden
unfairly to lower-income residents.
"It's like Robin Hood in reverse," said Loudon resident Richard Truitt.
Truitt urged the commission to fund school improvements through a
property tax increase that would generate most of its revenue from those
who live in expensive homes.
Even residents who supported the wheel tax said they were concerned that
the commission would pass a tax to fund a building program that has not
Wendy Baustian, president of the Loudon Elementary School Parent-Teacher
Organization, said the commission passed an Adequate Facilities Tax more
than a year ago, but the county has yet to put any of the money
generated by the tax toward the building program.
Director of Schools Edward Headlee proposed that the wording of the
wheel tax initiative be such that voters could either approve the $50
wheel tax or automatically have to agree to a property tax increase
sufficient to generate the same amount.
The wording should be similar to what Knox County used in its wheel tax
proposal, he said.
"You're saying we should word it so that the voters have no choice?"
Commissioner Earlena Maples asked.
Election Commissioner Dana Zehner, who was in the audience, spoke up and
told commission regardless of what happened in Knox County, such a move
would be illegal under the Loudon County charter.
"It has to be a 'for or against' vote," Zehner said.
After several minutes of debate the commission agreed to leave the
wording of the wheel tax proposal such that voters can vote it up or
down without agreeing to a property tax increase.
The commission, which was also expected to vote on a proposed 8-cent
property tax increase, decided to put off discussing the proposal until
they received the 2008-2009 budget from the school department.