Wheel Tax Still Being Discussed
Will there be a wheel tax on the ballot this year in Cocke County? That question is still unanswered after a meeting of the CLB last night. Every member of the CLB was present and around 50 people attended the meeting as they knew what was to be discussed…using a wheel tax to pay for a new jail and justice center in Cocke County…as the current jail was decertified by the state in December of 2016.
Once discussion started on whether to place a wheel tax on the ballot, some fierce debate began between board member Forest Clevenger and County Mayor Crystal Ottinger. Clevenger made the point that this issue should have been resolved 4 years ago before the current board was in place. Mayor Ottinger stated the county is set to be debt free in 6 years and by then a wheel tax would not be necessary to build the jail. Board member Gayla Blazer interjected that interest rates are set to go up this year and possibly 11 times in the next 2 years making building a few years from now even more expensive proposition. Clevenger noted how 4 years ago the new jail would have cost $25 million but todays cost would be at least $40 million.
After all the debate and discussion, the board voted down the resolution to place a wheel tax on the ballot at this time. Forest Clevenger then made a motion to send the issue back to committee for further review which the board approved. To place a wheel tax on the ballot in August, The board will need to approve a resolution by mid-May.