To the Editor:
The following is what I observed at Monday’s joint meeting of the County Commission’s Education and Budget Committees and the county Board of Education.
AnalysisAmount financed -- $60 millionAnnual interest (e.g., 8.25) -- $4.50Duration of loan (in years) -- 30Start date of loan -- soon
Yearly principal + interest -- $3,648,134.23
Dedicated Wheel Tax103,000 registered vehicles in Wilson County $37.50 per vehicle$3,862,500 -- total revenue
I was invited by District 23 Commissioner Bernie Ash to come to a workshop meeting of the County Budget Committee, the Wilson County School Board, and the County Education Committee. Commissioner Ash chairs the Budget Committee. There was good attendance. The Commissioners were situated in a way they could be heard and I thought Commissioner Ash conducted the meeting well on a subject of great concern. I went by his office later and commended him. He is the staunch Newt Gingrich conservative of Wilson County and he conducted himself well.
I presented my Landfill scenario method of raising funds for education construction and it was not digested well by local leadership. We purchased a permitted landfill several years ago for about $13 million and the County Commissioners recently spent several hundred thousand dollars for another piece of property. We can be proud that we are Wilson County, United States citizens. We are now major shareholders of General Motors and we are landholders of property that is or will be worth $200 million.Every Wilson County taxpayer should feel a little richer knowing this valuable information.
Some day the taxpayers will demand that we use the landfill or sell it with the guarantee that Wilson County Solid Waste (including Lebanon) shall have free access for the 30 to 50 years it will stay open. The people can make better decisions when we are willing to give them the facts.
There seemed to be a growing consensus among elected officials that a wheel tax would be a better¬ dedicated education tax than riding the property tax once again. I believe that I have been around long enough to grasp when leadership is about ready to move. In Wilson County it is not with a loud clatter but with a subtle persistence. (Maybe I will be a writer in my next career). Mayor Robert Dedman had the number of registered vehicles on the tip of his tongue and he knew exactly how much a $37.50 wheel tax would generate. I need to stop a moment and let you know how well I know some folks. When I was 15 and training with the Mt. Juliet Golden Gloves team, Gilbert Graves would be there many nights encouraging us and enjoying the action. He is the senior member of the Wilson County Commission, representing District 16. It is like E.F. Hutton, when Commissioner Graves speaks, his colleagues listen. Why, you may ask? For 40 years he has gained the reputation of listening long and patiently before speaking.
In the meeting that I sat in they were right on the mark, without cue cards but well prepared. It is my belief these leaders are up to the task and are ready to fund a new Lebanon High School. We will soon see if the younger blood is up to it.
Someone told me that you could not write letters like the two I have recently written unless you are not running for election. They are probably right and that is fine with me.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Kelley is a former Wilson County Executive and a former Wilson County Road Superintendent.
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