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County Commission to vote on gun ban, adequate facilities tax increase

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By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post

Wilson County Commission is set to vote on a resolution to ban guns in the county’s parks during its regular meeting at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 17.

According to Chapter 428 or the Public Acts of 2009, persons authorized to carry a handgun will be prohibited from possessing guns while within or on public parks owned or operated by the County or an instrumentality. This includes public parks, natural areas, historic parks, nature trails, campgrounds, forests, greenways, waterways or other similar public places.

District 11 County Commissioner Bob Neal is sponsoring the resolution.

“The way I see it, no guns means nobody gets shot,” Neal said. “I’ve spent 20 years in the military and I know a thing or two about guns. It’s not always bad folks that do the shooting.

“There could be an accident or sometimes tempers get flared and somebody could get shot. I don’t think it sets a good precedent to kids when they see their parents packing heat.”

Watertown City Council voted to ban guns in parks, while Mt. Juliet City Commission voted to allow them. Lebanon City Council has not voted on the issue yet.

Cities and counties must vote to opt out of the guns in parks law by Sept. 1.

District 1 Commissioner Larry West said that he thinks guns should not be allowed in parks because “even people with permits get angry and may pull a gun and fire. They can’t guarantee that bullet will go where they want it to go. What if a child is standing behind where they are aiming and the bullet hits that child? How can you live with yourself after that happens?”

West continued by saying that though this was his personal opinion, he was elected by the people of his district and would vote according to their wishes. He added that as of Tuesday, he had not received any calls for or against the ban.

In another matter, West is sponsoring a resolution to be considered by commission Monday night that would raise the adequate facilities tax on residential construction.

The resolution would “increase the tax on each unit of covered single-family development, or in the case of multi-family development, on each unit proposed for human habitation in an amount equal to $8,000 per unit.”

If passed, would increase the tax to $8,000 on single-family units, $16,000 for a duplex, $24,000 for a triplex, and $8,000 per unit on any residential development of four units or more.

“People move to Wilson County for two main reasons,” West said. “Good schools and cheaper taxes.”

“I know we need a new Lebanon High School, but I don’t think it’s right to put all that on those who already live here while people can move here, pay $3,000 to build a house, and get over $15,000 in benefits with schools and roads, etc. I’ve been pushing this since I came on the commission (in 2007),” he said.

Amy Hamilton, a real estate agent for Keller Williams in Mt. Juliet, said that she does not think an increase in the adequate facilities tax, sometimes called an impact fee, would be good for the community or the real estate market.

“Absolutely not,” Hamilton said. “We showed the commission all of the stats and figures on this and they still didn’t listen. When they first set this in place, it really slowed building rates.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the builders because construction costs are still high, and now they have to try and factor in this increased tax. This economy and this market cannot support increased construction and cannot support an increased (facilities) tax.”

Prior to the meeting, commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget for 2009-2010 and will then vote on it, an appropriations resolution and a tax rate resolution during the regular meeting.

Staff Writer Ben Dudley may be contacted at ben@wilsonpost.com.

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