HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – After several attempts, Hawkins County Commissioners passed a wheel tax increase Monday night to offset the county’s $2 million deficit.
Commissioners voted 14-5 to pass the resolution of a $40 wheel tax increase.
When it passed, the room filled with applause.
But Mayor Melville Bailey said it still has to pass next month to go into effect.
“It has to go through two readings. So it’ll be read again next month and it would require two thirds again, which would be 14 votes,” Bailey said.
While some are unhappy about the potential tax increase, others say it’s crucial to keep important public services in use.
The wheel tax is currently $27. If commissioners pass the increase next month, it will go to $67. Add in the state fee on tags and that’s $96 a year per vehicle in Hawkins County.
“It’s a positive step. It’s probably not a real popular step, but in reality, you know you’ve got to have more money coming in than you’ve got going out,” Bailey said.
Julie Baker is the Assistant Manager at the Hawkins County Humane Society.
She says she’s grateful the commissioners passed the proposal so their organization can keeps its doors open.
“If we wouldn’t have gotten the wheel tax, we would’ve lasted a few months and would have had to close up,” Baker said. “I’m proud of the commissioners for coming up with a solution, following through and fixing our problem.”
The Tennessee Comptroller told commissioners if it doesn’t balance the budget by July 1, it will step in and start making cuts to places such as the humane society, fire halls, and public libraries.
Brian Greenleaf lives in Church Hill. He said he understands why the wheel tax increase was approved.
“I’m like everybody else. I work for money, I don’t want to have to pay anymore than I absolutely have to. But as I said, $40 doesn’t break my heart compared to what the possibilities are if we don’t pass something and get this balanced,” he said.
The next full commission meeting is scheduled for June 26th and 7 p.m.
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