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Mayor: "whole list" of improvements to tackle with sales tax increase

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Having those extra dollars, we can look at these necessities and possibly even some quality of life issues, Craighead said.


According to City Attorney Andy Wright, there is a long drawn-out process before the sales tax increase would even be implemented.


If it passes tonight, I have to send it to the State Comptrollers Office for their approval, Wright said on Tuesday.


He pointed out the Comptrollers Office is responsible for collecting sales taxes and has to approve the citys ordinance before it comes up for a second reading. If the ordinance receives the Comptrollers approval, the council has to pass it on second reading before it goes to a public referendum.


Wright said the state maximum limit for sales taxes is 9.75 percent and the current rate in Lebanon is 9.25 percent. Lebanon and Wilson County split 2.25 percent of the 9.25 equally.


The Wilson County Commission will have a chance to affect the proposed tax increase within 40 days of the city ordinance passing the council on second reading. Wright said the county is able pass its own ordinance to increase the rate within that time frame.


If a county ordinance were approved by the commission and in a public referendum, Lebanon and county governments would split the 0.5 increase, leaving roughly $1.7 million for the city each year.


The $1.7 million would come close to balancing our budget right now, Craighead pointed out.


If the county chooses not to pass its own ordinance, Lebanon would receive all revenues generated by the 0.5 percent tax increase. However, the county could still come back at a later date to change that fact.


The county can still come back at any time and pass their own ordinance, Wright said.


Wright said he would work with Wilson County Administrator of Elections Phillip Warren to place the ordinance on the ballot either during a special election or attaching it to the next general election.


Warren pointed out the city would have to wait until July to pass the ordinance on second reading in order to attach it to the next election, which is held on Aug. 6. He said the Election Commission has its own time frame of action for the referendum.


Once it comes to us, we would have to do it within 30 days of a regular election, Warren said.


If not attached to the next general election, Warren pointed out the city would have to pay for a special election. When the ordinance goes before the public, Warren said a simple majority, or 51 percent, of voters is required to pass the ordinance.


Craighead said he has many problems hed like to address with the additional funds and added the council also has many things they wish to do if the tax increase is implemented.


One such need Craighead noted was a new fire hall in the Highway 109 area, saying it can take the Lebanon Fire Department up to 15 minutes to respond to calls in the area.


There is a major high school out there, businesses, apartments, every second counts, Craighead said.


The mayor said this was a part of the plan to keep Lebanon moving forward and to keep the city from being stagnant. He said the tax increase is a step in the right direction toward improving Lebanon as a city.


Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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