Rain Tax 5

Next Monday, 6/26/17, the Lenoir City council will take the third and final vote on implementing the massive Rain Tax on every resident, school, church and business within the city limits. The projected revenue from the Rain Tax is expected to be $530,000.00 in the first year, equivalent to a 32 cent property tax. The first two votes passed unanimously.

The fact that the council is taking three votes is curious in it's self. The city only has to take two votes to pass any ordinance. So why three votes this time? I asked the mayor that very question. According to Mayor Tony Aikens, city officials just wanted to be sure residents and business owners had plenty of notice about the Rain Tax. But could it actually be that they didn't give any public notice prior to taking the first Rain Tax vote?

Council took the first vote on the Rain Tax back on May 8th. The law that allows the city to implement the tax also requires that:

Tennessee Code Annotated  68-221-1107.  Facilities user's fee.
....Prior to establishing or amending such user's fees, the municipality shall advertise its intent to do so by notice published in a newspaper of general circulation in such municipality at least thirty (30) days in advance of the meeting of the governing body which shall consider such adoption or amendment.

I went back and checked all local papers and apparently, no such public notice was ever run in any paper essentially rendering the first vote null and void for failure to provide public notice. Maybe Tony was right and they just wanted to be sure everyone would have time to learn about the Rain Tax. Or, giving the benefit of the doubt, they just "forgot" to run the public notice as required by law. You can decide that your self.  

If council does pass the Rain Tax next Monday, they plan to use LCUB for muscle and collections of the tax. It will just be added to your utility bill. So what happens if you just refuse to pay such a ridiculous tax? Late fees, legal fees and any legal means available to collect the tax. In other words, they're going to get your money.

There seems to be a debate about the Rain Tax. Is it a fee or is it a tax? If Democrats pass it, it's a tax, if Republicans pass it, it's a fee, usually a user fee. Generally speaking, a fee is an optional payment, a tax is not optional. If you go to Dollywood, you pay a fee to get in. Don't want to pay the fee, don't go. Stormwater fee/Rain tax, don't want to pay it, no option. You must pay. That's a tax.

The next vote will be June 26th, with the public hearing beginning at 6:15 at city hall. The actual vote will take place after the 7:00 meeting begins. If you plan to attend in opposition or support, you should be there for the 6:15 portion of the meeting.

Below are a few more estimates of local businesses Rain Tax.

  • Good Samaritan-$50 per month

  • KARM-$200 per month

  • Habitat Store-$50 per month

  • Lenoir City School System-$14,000 per year

  • KFC-$50 per month

  • Ugly Mug-$50 per month

  • Hi-Tech Auto Body-$50 per month

  • Elm Hill/Family Brands-$500 per month

  • Most of the Historic Downtown Businesses-$25-$50 per month