Commissioner explores sales tax vote
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 12:35 pm
I find that I must write this article to clear up some matters. Evidently there are a lot of questions about the proposed sales tax issue on the ballot. On one hand you have a member of the election commission that is asking people to vote down the sales tax increase. He certainly has his right as a private citizen to say what he thinks, but, the fact that he is a member of the election commission that oversees the election process I don’t think he should be able to do that. With his office of election commissioner he has more influence to sway the voting citizenry then he does as being a private citizen.
It would be like what had happened twenty years ago on the grand jury. The Grand Jury Foreman was part of a group of people who signed a petition to help get probation for a convicted drug dealer from this county, they were friends. When the judge saw that his name was on the petition he immediately called the foreman in and relieved him of his position and appointed another man. The judge told him that he has a responsibility to stay out of anything like that because of his position.
Mr. Davenport from the election office writes that if the Commission had the power to raise the sales tax by themselves they would. That is probable but there is also a set limit that you can raise these kind of taxes and local governments in Tennessee with the exception of Cannon County (and maybe one other) has already reached that limit. So if we could raise them we would not go over what our neighboring counties have because they are at the limit.
In Mr. Davenport’s defense I must say that I have complete confidence in his ability to do what is right. But he has to realize that we only have one or two ways of raising funds to run this county. The Commission has continually asked the heads of the county departments to cut back and they have did the best they can. Pretty soon we will be asking them to work for nothing or ask them to lay off people because we can’t afford them.
What this tax does for Cannon County.
There have been hundreds of citizens that have told the commissioners that they don’t want to have their property taxes raised. I don’t particularly want mine raised either; so what is the next option? The Commissioners have asked to put this sales tax referendum on the November ballot because half of this tax goes to the school system. They are already operating on sales tax revenues, when you look on the audit from the State of Tennesseethe money is called local option sales tax. And for the year 2011 it shows that the school system got $490,278.00 for that year. I am told by a member of CTAS fromNashville in the financial division that this penny increase we are asking for will bring the county $500,000.00 dollars more. Out of that half million dollars half of it, a quarter of a million ($250,000.00), will go to the schools on top of what they already get. The other half of that the county has for solid waste expenses and our general fund. We could put that on debt services if we wanted to. In fact the commission could vote to put our half of the sales tax money on whatever we deemed necessary. By comparison 1 penny on property taxes will bring in only $20,000.00 (twenty thousand) a year.
Who should be behind this vote?
I would think that the School Board and the Superintendent of Schools would be out beating the bushes asking everyone to help get this passed. TheCountyExecutiveshould also be out there asking for this tax. And why you may ask? I am not presuming that everyone goes out of the county to shop. I know some people that only shop in Woodbury/Cannon County, but that is not the normal case. You can get food here and some furniture and building materials but you have to admit there is only so much you can buy in Woodbury. So if that is the case every county you buy from has a 9 ¾ sales tax. So what you buy out of county you do not reap any advantage for your county, you give it to the county you are shopping in.
County Commission’s Duty
It is the duty of the county legislative body to find the funding and set tax rates to keep the county running on a day to day basis. Because we do not have the industries at this time to help offset the property taxes we have to be creative to help “keep the lights on”. The local option sales tax is probably the most equal way to fund money to be used to help government operations (especially the schools). Being aCountyCommissioneras you can guess is not the most popular position in the county, especially when it comes to raising money. The men and women who take on this job must have the desire to serve the county and do what is necessary to keep the county afloat.
If we cannot raise money this way on a sales tax increase then it will fall on us to raise property taxes at some time to keepCannonCountyafloat. Remember one additional cent of property tax money only brings in $20,000.00
I ask you not to just blindly go to the polls and cast a vote not to raise the sales tax, think about the schools, they are recipients of half the money raised by this tax. Don’t just vote no because you feel we don’t need any more taxes raised. Don’t take my word for it; ask Barbara Parker if the school gets this money and ask her if she could use more, I bet you she will tell they can always use money.
5th District Commissioner
Chairman of theCountyCommission