Paying more taxes is something most people don't like, but officials in
Blount County say it may be necessary to help the school district.
Talks of a wheel tax are rolling through the area. Blount County
Commissioner Holden Lail said his constituents suggested the idea as a way for
more people to share the extra costs, instead of all of the pressure being put
"We have tons of people who live in rental property, who make use of
our county roads and our schools, and they do not have a direct responsibility
towards supporting those schools," said Commissioner Lail.
Blount County Schools is requesting $86.8 million from the Blount County
Commission, the school system's funding body, for the county schools' fiscal year 2013 - 2014.
Director of Schools Rob Britt said, "Our revenue projections,
unfortunately, are at $79.9 million."
That means there's about a $6.9 million deficit.
"We are in great need of some textbooks and some materials that are
aligned in the new Common Core State Standards that our students and teachers
will be measured on in the future," said Britt. He also said the money
will be used to provide better technology for the students and step raises for
teachers and support staff. Britt said none of the money will be used for
Initially, there were talks of a 38.5 cent property tax increase to help the
Commissioner Lail said, "On a $100,000 home, it would be at least $100 to $110, just on an estimation, and that would impact a lot of folks who are on
fixed incomes more than a $35 car registration fee."
Commissioner Lail will present a resolution at the April 9th Agenda
Committee meeting. He's proposing a Blount County Wheel Tax of $35 per vehicle
and $17.50 per motorcycle.
"There are only nine other counties in the state that charges a wheel
tax of lesser amounts," Commissioner Lail said.
Nearby Monroe County charges a Wheel Tax of $25. Jefferson County charges
$25 per vehicle and $15 per motorcycle. Knox County charges $36.
Brandon Scherer of Maryville said, "I'm okay with it as long as it's
for a good purpose [like] education or healthcare. Anything like that, I'm okay
with taxes. They don't bother me at all."
Charles Walker, also of Maryville, said, "I think it's a good thing if
it's going solely to the schools. I feel like the schools need the money and I
am for that, even though I am going to have to pay it too."
Commissioner Lail and Britt both admit the wheel tax will not cover the
entire nearly $7 million deficit for school system's next year budget, as
Commissioner Lail estimates if the tax is passed it will generate about $3.5
million. However, both said the money will definitely be a big help.
Commissioner Lail said if the wheel tax passes
the commission, it will be put on the already scheduled June 11th special
election ballot so voters can decide.