Wheel tax, waste fee rejected in Rhea County

Wheel tax, waste fee rejected in Rhea County

September 12th, 2012 by Tom Davis in News

Rhea County Commissioner Ronnie Raper.

Rhea County Commissioner Ronnie Raper.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

DAYTON, Tenn. -- Rhea County commissioners will balance their new budget without a wheel tax or solid waste fee, but those revenue sources may appear later, commissioners indicated.

Meeting in a workshop session Monday, commissioners heard from Budget Committee Vice Chairwoman Emmaly Fisher that the panel recommended a $26 wheel tax, with revenue going to the county's fund balance, and a $12 solid-waste fee to offset costs in that area.

Finance Director Bill Graham said the proposed budget has a $677,000 deficit, which would be covered from the county's fund balance. Without more revenue, the fund balance would drop to about $389,000 by the end of the year, he said.

Commissioner Ronnie Raper suggested commissioners adopt the balanced budget and later consider steps to increase revenue.

"I'm not comfortable with $26 [wheel tax] because he [Graham] is not comfortable with it," Raper said.

Graham said that starting the wheel tax in January would provide only half a year's income and would not replace the funds used to balance the budget.

Commissioner Bill Hollin questioned the budget, saying, "There's nothing in here to show progress" on overcrowding at the county jail. He said that if the county does not show progress, the jail could lose its state certification.

Commissioners agreed to consider approving the budget at a special meeting Thursday in time to start the process to meet a state deadline of Sept. 30.

After the meeting neither Commission Chairman Jim Reed nor Fisher would discuss whether the commission would take up the wheel tax and solid waste fee after the budget is adopted.

Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at tsdavis@volstate.net.