Once again, $40 wheel tax hike will be presented to Hawkins Commission

Jeff Bobo • May 19, 2017 at 10:48 AM

ROGERSVILLE - It will take only one of 21 Hawkins County Commissioners to prevent an out-of-order resolution increasing the county's wheel tax by $40 from being added to the County Commissioner Monday agenda evening.

Budget Committee chairman Stacy Vaughan said last week he wouldn't attempt to submit another wheel tax increase resolution in May after seven previous resolution had already been rejected by the commission.

On Monday, however, Tennessee Comptroller chief of staff Jason Mumpower told commissioners that failure to approve a balanced 2017-18 budget by July 1 will result in a state takeover of the budget. The consequences of that takeover would be a 100 percent cut of all discretionary funding including fire, rescue and EMS contributions; and would also likely result in a property tax increase.

The deadline to get a resolution on the May 22 agenda had already passed by Monday. Following Mumpower's presentation, however, Vaughan said he would submit an out-of-order resolution seeking a wheel tax increase in hopes of heading off the state takeover.

As it sits now the proposed 2017-18 general fund budget is about $250,000 in the black, but still spends $1.6 million more than it brings in.

Under Vaughan's proposal $30 of that $40 increase - or about $1.5 million in new revenue - would go into the general fund budget.

The other $10 - or about $500,000 in new revenue, would be allocated toward public safety including fire departments, rescue squads, EMS, the humane society, and Red Cross. About $420,000 currently allocated toward public safety contributions would be returned to the general fund.

It has already been established there isn't enough non-mandates spending to cut from the proposed budget to erase that $1.6 million revenue deficit.

The wheel tax has been touted by many commissioners and the public alike as the most fair way to increase revenue because it places the burden on more people, and not just property owners.

Including a $5 state tag fee increase approved for 2017-18, if the $40 hike is approved Hawkins County's tag renewal would be $96 per vehicle per year.                                                                                    

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