Approves Largest Tax Increase in County
The Commission approved a 22% increase in
the county local option sales tax. The
proceeds of the tax increase are to be split
between the schools and the highway
As you might expect, this increase is being
promoted as “for the children”. While the
County schools could benefit from some
increase in funding (See my Special
Report on our Schools), this tax
increase is an unnecessary burden on the
citizens of our county.
This sales tax increase could have a
significant negative impact on the businesses
in our county. It will make our local option
sales tax more than 37% higher than the tax in
Loudon county and 22% higher than Knox and
The additional money for the highway
department is not needed. The new budget added
all the proceeds of the cable TV franchise
fees to the highway department budget. At the
Commission meeting, Highway Superintendent
Dunlap stated that these additional funds were
adequate, and that additional funds would not
be needed. I offered an amendment to the
resolution to take the portion of this tax
increase earmarked for the Highway department
and use it to pay down the County’s huge,
quarter billion dollar debt. My amendment died
for lack of a second.
Commissioner French tried to put forth a
creative proposal that would have given the
County a larger portion of the overall sales
tax receipts (currently most of the receipts
go to the cities of Maryville and Alcoa).
Unfortunately, the Commission voted to cut off
debate before this proposal could be properly
discussed. Only Commissioner French and I
voted against cutting off debate.
The additional funding for the schools should
be provided by cutting the budgets of the most
wasteful departments in the county government.
Several comparative studies have shown that
Blount County spends at least twenty percent
more than any other similar sized county in
the state. Most of this wasteful spending is
concentrated in Sheriff Berrong’s department,
Circuit Court Clerk Hatcher’s department and a
few of the Mayor’s departments. The needed
funds for the schools can, and should, be
obtained by cutting these budgets, not by
putting additional tax burdens on our
The Commission is made up entirely of
Republican members. Supposedly, we Republicans
stand for cutting wasteful spending, reducing
debt and holding the line on taxes. Yet, this
Commission has done nothing to cut wasteful
spending, or reduce debt. Even worse, this
Commission has voted for two major tax
increases. It seems that most members would
rather feed the wasteful spending habits of
their powerful political cronies, than worry
about the tax burdens they are imposing on our
I was the only Commissioner to vote against
this huge tax increase.
The citizens of the County will have their say
on this tax increase in the November election.
The sales tax increase will be on the ballot.
I hope the citizens will tell the Commission
they will no longer tolerate the massive
wasteful spending in our County by voting NO
on the tax increase.