|Commission to consider wheel tax hike for new LHS|
|Thursday, July 2, 2009|
By JENNIFER HORTON and CONNIE ESH
A resolution calling for an increase in the wheel tax by$37.50 to fund a new Lebanon High School will be placed in the packet to be voted on by Wilson County Commission at the Monday, July 20 regular meeting.
The resolution, sponsored by District 25 Commissioner Randy Hall, would provide for the construction and furnishing of the long-discussed replacement high school. The wheel tax is currently $25 and with the proposed increase, the figure would rise to $62.50 per automobile.
“We’ve gone through this and gone through this,” he said regarding efforts to approve funding for the new facility. “People are ready for it to be built.”
Hall noted there are two ways for the wheel tax hike to become law. One is for county commission to approve the resolution calling for the increase by a two-thirds vote, or 17 members, in two separate readings. The other is to hold a referendum to allow citizens to vote on the matter.
Hall noted, however, it would “cost $100,000” to hold a referendum. “Why spend that?” he asked, when commission has the legal authority to approve the measure.
“I’m tired of it,” he added, noting this will be third time he has submitted the resolution.
“It’s ridiculous. We have a responsibility to build it. We should do it.”
As to how responsive the commission will be, Hall replied, “who knows? I think it’s a commissioner’s own personal feelings. If you’re for building (a new) Lebanon High School, you’ll vote for it.”
Hall said commissioners may say the measure should be brought before the Budget Committee first, but “it’s not like it’s a new thing. We’ve talked and talked the last two years. All we’ve done is talk.”
He said he believes more people are in favor of constructing a new high school than are against it and that a wheel tax will cover more people overall as opposed to a property tax or impact fee increase. “I’m trying to use common sense.”
Wilson County Schools Assistant Director Mickey Hall said he thought the proposal would be on the budget panel’s agenda first, but if Commissioner Hall has decided to present it to the full commission it seems like a good idea to him.
“We needed funding guidance from the full commission any way,” the assistant director said. “Once they decide what they approve, the school system will need to get the word out to the public. We’ll need support from the entire county.”
He added that he believed that everyone in the county is in agreement that LHS needed to be replaced, but some are concerned that an added wheel tax would be shifted to other things.
“If it is designated for debt service, it can’t be shifted to other things,” he said. “If we can help the public to understand that this will be used strictly to pay for the new high school, I think they will support it.”
The resolution said it is “… for the specific purpose of constructing and furnishing a new Lebanon High School,” and further down in the body of the measure said, “Be it therefore resolved, The Wilson County Board of Commissioners is hereby passing a resolution to levy a $37.50 wheel tax for the construction and furnishing of a new Lebanon High School.”
The assistant director also said that building a new LHS would help to alleviate the crowding at Southside, Carroll-Oakland and Tuckers Crossroads Elementary Schools since the old Lebanon High could be renovated and turned into a middle school for sixth through eighth graders from those schools.