Rain Tax Passes 5-1

In what probably came as no surprise to anyone, Lenoir City council voted Monday night to pass the half million dollar rain tax. The lone hold out was Bobby Johnson Sr. Johnson said he had heard from a lot of people and they're the ones who elected him and he just couldn't vote for it. Good for Mr. Johnson for listening to his constituents.

Johnson's no vote was no obstacle though. City officials brought in, who they called an expert, from MTAS, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, to go through a long explanation why the city had the right to pass the Rain Tax but he never said they had to. That we already knew.

A large crowd was on hand and several spoke in opposition to the tax. A couple spoke in favor. There was a lot of misinformation, disinformation and some down right fibinformation. The favorite word of the night was mandated. Mayor Aikens, the expert and others kept insinuating that some how the tax was mandated. In a way, I guess it is now. It's mandated by the city council but that's the only mandate. The federal government does not mandate the tax, the state government does not mandate the tax but now that's it's been passed Lenoir City council does mandate the tax.

To be fair, there are mandates from the state and have been since 2003, but none require the passage of the rain tax. Those mandates are:

  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Participation
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  4. Construction Site Runoff (Already Being Handled By Codes Department)
  5. Post Construction Runoff (Already Being Handled By Codes Department)
  6. Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping

These mandates, again, have been in place since 2003 and are what the city claims they need the half million dollar Rain Tax for.

After more than an hour of comment and discussion, the mayor called for a vote on the tax. Council was silent with no motion. Aikens made a second call for a vote at which point councilman Eddie Simpson gave a lengthy explanation of why the council needed to pass the tax. He also mentioned the city needed new fire trucks and police cars and needed to hire more firemen and couldn't do that unless they pass the Rain Tax to pay for all the stormwater work they had been paying for. Simpson made the motion to pass the tax. Councilman Jim Shields seconded the motion with councilmen and woman, Mike Henline, Buddy Hines and Jennifer Wampler all voting for the tax. Johnson either passed, voted no or just didn't vote. It wasn't clear but he definitely didn't vote for it.

Speaking frankly, every resident, every business, every church, every nonprofit, every school in the City of Lenoir City has been scammed in a big way. City officials absolutely did not have to pass the Rain Tax and did not have to create a stormwater utility to meet the 6 requirements mentioned above. Time will tell what the real reason for the massive tax increase was really for. The Rain Tax will take effect July 1st. Beginning in August, I guess, everyone in the city limits will see the Rain Tax included on their utility bill every month. It could range from $3 to $1,500 per month.

City voters should have no problem remembering what council has done right up to the 2018 election since they'll see it on their utility bill every month. The only way to undo the damage would be to replace council members who voted for the tax with those who would repeal it. Otherwise, you all are stuck with this tax forever and ever.