To the Editor:
If you, like me, are still upset about last year's property tax increase, you might be interested to know that Lebanon and the Wilson County commissioners are up to it again. They have passed a 5 percent sales tax increase on any resident that might wish to enjoy the proposed Bible Park. That's correct; anything you purchase within the park's "trade zone" would be taxed at over 14 percent.
If that doesn't get your attention, perhaps this will. Since the Bible Park developers are unable or unwilling to pay for the costs of the park, Lebanon will ask TDOT to fund part of the park's infrastructure costs. Yes, TDOT money is your tax money. The rest of the costs will be paid by Wilson County taxpayers in the form of a bond issue.
You might be asking yourself what is in this for the residents of Wilson County. First, we will get lots of low-paying and seasonal jobs at the Bible Park. We will also get low-paying restaurant and hotel jobs associated with a theme park. We will get 1.1 to 2.5 million visitors per year (their numbers, not mine) crowding into what is arguably one of the most congested parts of the city. And, a handful of local people will get rich by letting us taxpayers assume all the risk of financing the park.
If you are thinking that the county could use the new tax money generated by the park for projects such as the new Lebanon High School, you would be wrong. All of the tax money for 20 to 30 years will be going to pay off the bonds the county issued to pay for the Bible Park. Remember, the developers are unwilling or unable to find funding to build the entire park.
In today's economic climate, I find it hard to believe our elected leaders would risk our tax money and the county's reputation financing such a risky venture. If they insist on wasting our money, would it not make sense to minimize the costs to the taxpayer by looking at other locations where suitable infrastructure is already in place? Beckwith Road, Hartmann Drive and the State Rout 840 and Highway 109 corridors all come to mind. The taxpayers are really getting taken on this deal. The good folks of Wilson County deserve better.
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