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Wheel tax gets nailed

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By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post

Click here for Election numbers (PDF)

A Look at the numbers

Turnout in the referendum on whether to increase the county wheel tax by $25 to fund a new Lebanon High School and purchase property for a new Watertown High School was low as voters defeated themeasure by 703 votes.

The nays secured 54% of the vote to deny the green light to fund the school projects on the drawing board for Wilson County.

The trend started early as the nays gained a 403 vote lead with 28 precincts reporting in about an hour and a half after polls closed at 7 p.m. The lead increased as the precincts continued to report.With the loss, county commissioners will have to look for alternative methods to fund the building projects and a property tax increase may be on the board with sales tax revenues being low with the sagging economy.

Those voting against the referendum tallied 5,120 votes to the 4,417 voting for themeasure. Absentee ballots were still out at press time but did not figure in making a differencein the outcome. “It’s sad that only about 12 percent of the registered voters came out and participated. It’s disappointing that such a small percentage cared,” said Wilson County Schools Director Mike Davis. “There are over 15,000 kids in the county school system. Most of them have two parents which makes around 30,000 voters. If every parent of every student had come to vote, it wouldn’t be so disappointing,” he noted. Davis added, “There is still a need for a new LHS.

Now the county commission has the sole responsibility to raise the money for it.” Early voting totals numbered 3,592 total votes with 2,342 voting from Lebanon, 1,045 from Mt. Juliet and 205from Watertown. Total votes cast in the election including early voting were 9,537 (without absentees).

Larry Hubbard, a local citizen and parent who has long sought a new LHS, expressedhis disappointment and noted a message was sent to LHS students by voters who defeatedthe measure. “God is great, life is good and people are crazy,” he said. “The commissioners who are concerned with education were the ones here tonight,” said David Glasscock, a teacher at LHS. He referred to Wilson County Commissioners Chris Sorey, District 2; and Annette Stafford, District20, who waited for results at the Wilson County Election Commission. Lynn Harris, administrator of Elections, said the approximately 15 percent turnout was disappointing. There are 67,060 registered voters in Wilson.

Estimated costs to hold the referendum were about $100,000, but Harris said, “Wehope it doesn’t cost that much.” Election Commission workers tried to cut back wherever possible, but it will be about a month before the final cost is known.

 A look at the numbers… Click here for Election numbers (PDF)

Looking at the numbers in Thursday’s wheel tax referendum indicates a well-defined split in the votes between West Wilson, Lebanon and Watertown.

While Lebanon precincts overwhelming gave the thumbs up to what would have been a $25 increase in the wheel tax to fund the building of a new Lebanon High and the necessary money to purchase land for a future Watertown High School, voters in Watertown and West Wilson precincts answered with a overwhelming no vote to referendum.

Lebanon voters in 15 area precincts totaled 3042 votes for the measure while 2091 voted against it, a 951 vote lead going into the Western precincts.

Mt. Juliet and West Wilson voters answered with a 1437 anti-wheel tax win giving the nay-sayers a comfortable 486 vote margin heading into the Watertown precincts.       

Watertown voters surprisingly voted down the wheel tax by nearly 200 votes although if the measure had passed, land would have been purchased to build a new Watertown High School at some point in the future.

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