Wheel Tax Discussed Again
The potential for a Wheel Tax in Cocke County is something that has been bantered about for years. Last week, the subject was broached again at a meeting with the Cocke County General Committee. At issue is a new county jail and how to pay for it. Estimates originally set the cost for a new jail at $32 million or $40 million if a jail/justice center were built. However, since those estimates, inflation has hit as well as supply issues making actual costs higher. A Wheel Tax has been brought up as a potential tool to help raise the needed funds. Commissioner Forest Clevenger says he believes a wheel tax is an option that helps spread the cost to much of the county as most have vehicles where only 20% pay property taxes which are sure to raise without a wheel tax. However, Commissioner Norman Smith states that a wheel tax itself will not be enough and property taxes will probably need to be increased as well. Commissioner Gayla Blazer states that a town hall meeting should be done to inform the public of the dire situation with the county’s current jail and why a wheel tax is needed. Cocke County and Sevier County are the only counties in the area without a wheel tax, however Sevier county sees a significant amount of income from tourism.