Rhea County wheel tax conversation delayed

Rhea County wheel tax conversation delayed

December 20th, 2012 by Tom Davis in Local Regional News

Rhea County jail

Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Times Free Press.

POLL: Should Rhea County have a wheel tax?

DAYTON, Tenn. - Rhea County commissioners this week delayed consideration of a wheel tax until February to give time for a review of county budget and capital needs.

Commissioner Ron Masterson, chairman of the Budget Committee, recommended that the wheel tax issue be delayed until after a Jan. 26, 2013, workshop when commissioners are to discuss proposals for a jail or justice center.

"I felt like there is a need to review all our resources, including the property tax or a combination of a property tax increase and wheel tax," Masterson said after the Tuesday meeting. "For any new project or projects we're working on now, we have got to have extra money.

"When we meet in January, I feel we will discuss both a wheel tax and a property tax [increase] and a combination of those," he said. "If neither of those is approved, the only thing left is a reduction in force."

Speaking during the meeting, Sheriff Mike Neal objected to linking construction of a jail or justice center to a wheel tax.

"You've said that you need a wheel tax to balance your budget," he told commissioners. "I don't want people thinking you're going to do this because of the jail. We can buy a piece of property, and I can pay for it and it won't cost the taxpayers anything, and that will get the state off our back for a year or two. Then we can build."

Commissioners also voted to move money collected from the county's business and beer taxes to the solid waste budget, to balance that budget and provide funds to replace garbage trucks in coming years.

Masterson pointed out that the move "is not creating any new revenue. The $450,000 to go into [the solid waste] fund consequently is like taking money out of one pocket and putting it another. We'll alleviate the problem [in the solid waste fund] but that does not help the county per se."

The commission also voted to raise a litigation tax from its present $10 per case to $25. The money can be used to help pay for construction or maintenance of a jail, or to retire debt on such a project.