Finance, school officials favor sales tax hike
Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard, Deputy Director of Wilson County Schools Mickey Hall and School Board Member Larry Tomlinson united in support of the Sales Tax Referendum that is on the ballot in the Wilson County General Election.
The referendum on the ballot for the election, which will take place Aug. 7 and is already available through early voting at four Wilson County locations, asks voters if they are in favor of a half-cent sales tax increase. If approved, the increase would raise the sales tax rate from the current 2.25 percent to the maximum allowed under state law, 2.75 percent.
In a letter sent to The Wilson Post on Tuesday, Maynard, Hall and Tomlinson expressed their feelings on why increasing sales tax would have a positive effect on the community – and especially education.
“Education holds an important position in the maintenance and growth of Wilson County’s economic future. Business leaders and investors considering bringing their companies to our area always ask about the local support for education and the success of the schools in our cities and in the county. Wilson County and Lebanon Special District Schools have maintained a high level of success for many years … However, as each year passes, and funding from federal and state source dwindles, Wilson County and Lebanon Special District Schools depend more and more upon local sources for necessary funding of expenses that increase every year, just as personal and family expenses increase,” the letter read.
It went on to explain that the school systems acquire 500 to 600 new students annually and with that comes increased cost of textbooks and increased needs in transportation, well-trained personnel and repairs of buildings and equipment.
“Wilson County is one of the fastest growing counties in our state. A strong sales tax that grows with the population and inflation rate is fundamental to funding public education in our county. Currently the local portion of the schools’ budget is funded primarily through property tax and sales tax revenues. As increased needs arise, and after budgets are carefully reviewed for cost cuts and savings, it becomes necessary to find additional sources of revenue to maintain the level of service needed by the students of our county.
“Raising property taxes can sometimes place an undue burden on landowners who can ill afford increased taxation of their hoes and land. The backbone and vitality of a community including senior citizens and first-time homebuyers are often hardest hit by increases in the property tax structure.
They also lobbied for distributing the cost of public education more fairly among citizens by a sales tax increase.
“The sales tax increase that occurred in 1993 enabled the county to delay for many years any increase in property taxes due to the additional funding produced by the sales tax increase … By state law, half of the revenue raised through sales tax must go to schools and the other half to the municipalities. The major advantage to increasing sales tax is that it is a broad base tax, not limited to property owners, but shared by all persons who purchase items in the county – local citizens and visitors as well.
“Education is an economic industry, employing resources and producing an important output. Providing adequate funding for high quality educational opportunities in our county produces graduates who provide a productive and efficient workforce in our county.”
Early voting is open at the Wilson County Election Commission, Mt. Juliet Community Center, Gladeville Community Center and Watertown Community Center Monday through Saturday until Aug. 2.
A total of 4,052 voters had cast their ballots in early voting through Wednesday afternoon, according to the Election Commission.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.