Commissioners Approve 2 ½ cent Sales Tax

Voters to Decide Sale Tax Fate on Feb. 5, 2008

By Pat Hunter

Loudon County Commissioners unanimously approved the last minute modified version submitted by Commissioner Don Miller, Resolution - 2½-cent Sales Tax Increase to put on the referendum ballot for the February 5, 2008, Election Ballot.

Commissioners originally considered increasing sales tax from the current rate of 2 cents to 2½ or 2¾-cent. They choose to go with the 2½-cent sales tax increase.

Just before the Special Called meeting was called to Order, some last minute wrangling went on over wording of the Resolution. This discussion continued into the meeting itself.

Commissioner Don Miller mentioned that he had concerns about the wording of the proposed Resolution and that he had spoken to Finance Director, Tracy Blair. Commissioner David Meers said that he too had spoken with Ms. Blair.

Miller explained that he was suggesting a change to the wording to the original version, which was sent in packet information, one week earlier to commissioners by the mayor’s administrative assistant, Brenda Bright.

Commissioner Harold Duff asked Miller to explain the difference and to clarify his changes.

According to Commissioner Miller, the original draft copy Resolution committed to the voters the entire amount of 2½ cents to schools. But in Miller’s revised version only the increase itself of ½ cent would be earmarked for education and the remainder amount would be silent on the remaining 2 percent. He said that commission may want to use the 2 percent for education but in the past, sales tax was used for other county expenses. He thought that it would make more sense to commit just the ½ cent increase rather than the entire 2½-cent percent and that he thought the wording didn’t quite say that.

The ballot referendum will read as follows: Shall the local option sales tax be increased effective April 1, 2003 from the current rate of 2.0 cents to a rate of 2.50 cents with all the proceed from this increase in the local option sales tax being designated as revenue for the Loudon County and Lenoir City School Systems.

Commissioner David Meers made the motion, seconded by Commissioner Wayne Gardin. All commissioners unanimously approved the Sales Tax Resolution. Absent was Commissioner Bob Franke.

Commissioner Meers did not read his conflict of interest statement before voting on the sales tax for schools matter. The county employs Meers; he is the Highland Park principal.

Commissioner Harold Duff did not want the public to think that the sales tax increase alone would solve the school building program but he said that it would help.

Several commissioners spoke in favor of the sales tax and they urged parents and Board of Education members to get involved in promoting passage of the sales tax increase for county schools.  

Other Resolution Approved

Mayor Arp presented another Resolution that would authorize Loudon County to enter into an agreement with the State of Tennessee if voters pass the Sales Tax Resolution. Arp said that  the remainder of this Resolution would be completed and sent to Nashville. Commissioners unanimously approved the Resolution presented by Mayor Arp.        

No Public Comment

The public was not allowed to speak at the Special Called meeting and draft copies of the proposed Resolutions were not posted on the official Loudon County website prior to the vote by commission.