May 30 Tax Vote Likely

It appears that Anderson County Schools Superintendent-turned-County Commissioner, V.L. Stonecipher, has finally succeeded in gathering enough valid signatures to force a sales tax referendum on elevating the sales tax countywide.

My objection to this effort is not raising the sales tax; obviously, citizens have the right to do that by referendum. My objection is that all it really does is to reallocate tax revenue from four incorporated cities to the County.

Two years ago when Oak Ridge voters overwhelmingly approved a sales tax referendum to fund the note on reconstructing Oak Ridge High School, there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” with county officials to not supersede the tax rate for a period of five years.

Doing so at this point puts a serious dent in the financing plan for the high school renovations, which have already been contracted and begun.

How can these four cities — indisputably, the economic engines of the County — make up the difference in their budgets if the referendum (in which none of their residents can vote) should pass?

  1. property tax increases
  2. annexation.

The referendum is being sold to County voters as “it won’t really affect the taxes you pay, since you shop in the cities anyway; it’s just taking money from them and keeping it for yourself.”

Maybe County Commission needs to re-think their position on allowing Clinton to annex the property near I-75, which would generate a lot of new sales and property tax revenue for the County. Maybe they need to think about growing the pie, instead of eating someone else’s piece.

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