published Monday, June 18th, 2012

Bradley County GOP, school officials split on wheel tax

Some schools in both the Cleveland and Bradley County school systems are using their marquee signs to ask motorists to vote "yes'' this summer for a $32 wheel tax.
Some schools in both the Cleveland and Bradley County school systems are using their marquee signs to ask motorists to vote "yes'' this summer for a $32 wheel tax.
Photo by Randall Higgins.
Should Bradley County have a wheel tax?

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Bradley County Republican Party chairman and local school officials do not see eye to eye when it comes to the $32 wheel tax referendum on the Aug. 2 ballot.

"We oppose any new tax," Bradley GOP Chairman David Smith said Thursday.

The Republican Party is not opposed to education or to any individual, he said.

The county Democratic Party has taken no official position.

Several schools, in both the city and county school systems, are appealing for "yes" votes on their marquee signs.

Bradley County school board Chairman Charlie Rose agreed that no one really wants a wheel tax.

"But given the current state of funding in our county, combined with the current state of capital projects necessary for our students, many of us have come to the realization that we need a wheel tax," Rose said. "The county system is requesting funds for replacement projects or additional space for current student needs."

The city school system, and the Cleveland City Council, endorsed the County Commission's resolution calling for a referendum.

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The ballot question asks, "Shall a motor vehicle tax be assessed on residents of Bradley County Tennessee, beginning on January 1, 2013, in an amount of $32 for each motor-driven vehicle and $16 for each motorcycle owned by them (except motor vehicles not taxed by the State of Tennessee and motor-driven vehicles owned by an government agency or government instrumentality), the proceeds to be dedicated to the Debt Service Fund, for principal, interest and fees on education capital projects, be approved?"

Smith said he will be explaining the county GOP stand Tuesday when he speaks to the Tea Party of Bradley County.

In a previous statement, Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford said the top priority is getting accurate information to voters. He suggested going to official county websites, including the Bradley County Commission site, where the referendum resolution is posted along with information on how the money is to be used.

July 3 is the last day to register to vote at county election offices, according to the Tennessee Election Commission. The first day for early voting is July 13.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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