Van Buren County voters will have the ultimate say when it comes to passing a $40 Wheel Tax.
The original copy of the Wheel Tax resolution Commissioners received last week, it was stated the new tax could be passed either by two readings by the County Commission or by an election. Mayor Greg Wilson said that resolution was a mistake.
“The one that we originally had and sent out with the packet for Commissioners did not speak the language we needed,” Wilson said. “So, we’ve done another one, it was sent out to Commissioners, and it will be brought up under new business.”
When Commissioners passed a $10 Wheel Tax in 2018, it was later struck down by voters in a special election in February 2019, costing Van Buren County $27,000. Wilson said that experience led leaders to take this year’s decision straight to voters.
“It should go to the voters,” Wilson said. “It needs to go straight to them to decide. This way, it will avoid the county paying anything for that special election.”
In addition to the Wheel Tax resolution, Commissioners will consider a 45-cent property tax increase when they meet Monday. Wilson said even with the increase, Van Buren County will continue to have one of the lowest property tax rates in Tennessee.
“When you look at it,” Wilson said. “When you have people or industries that would possibly want to move here, whether it’s a residence, business, or something of that nature, they’re still going to look at the property tax. Well, we’re still going to have one of the very lowest.”
Even though the Wheel Tax will not help balance the current budget, Wilson said it will help the county stabalize the Van Buren County’s financial future. Half of the proposed would go to the county’s general fund, while the other half will go to the School System.
“There has not been any extra funding from the county for them in some time,” Wilson said. “It’s money they’re going to need in the future. When you do a wheel tax, or anything of that nature, it’s hard to project where you are going to end up revenue wise, so the best thing for us to do is to look at that. We did not put this (the Wheel Tax) into our budget. You cannot put something into a budget that you don’t know if it’s going to be there.”
Wilson said he believes the Wheel Tax is necessary to ensure the county’s future. He said for the county to maintain services, more revenue is necessary.
“We have to take a look at this,” Wilson said. “I just want people to understand that those services are there, and we want to keep them there. If we don’t do this, those services may not be there. That’s the bottom line.”