CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Bradley County voters overwhelmingly approved a half-cent sales tax increase in a Thursday referendum.
Thursday's referendum was limited to county residents who live outside the Cleveland city limits.
Voters were asked on the ballot whether the 2.25 local option sales tax in the county should be raised to 2.75 cents.
County school officials have been advocating approval of the sales tax increase at neighborhood meetings. County schools had posted signs urging its passage.
County Commissioner Ed Elkins and others have told county voters for weeks that the increase is already a reality for all residents since most retail business is conducted inside the city limits. City voters approved the same increase in March.
The referendum's importance for county residents, Mr. Elkins said, is that under the sales tax agreement with the city, the first half of sales tax revenue goes to education. And of that half, the county gets two-thirds, based on student population.
"This referendum is very important for education in Bradley County," County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said before the voting began.
Mr. McDaniel and county school board members heard Finance Manager Rick Smith on Tuesday say that the 2010 fiscal year's general purpose budget assumed the sales tax would pass.
Members of the city school board were told Wednesday not to expect the first new revenue for Cleveland to show up until July. City merchants began collecting the extra half-cent this month, but there is a delay for the money to go to the state to be distributed again to the city.