White County Steering Committee A approved a plan Monday night to hold another public vote on the county’s sales tax.
Steering Committee A Chair Derrick Hutchings said raising the county’s sales tax rate from 9.5 percent to 9.75 percent would make it the same rate as the city of Sparta. That would allow the county to collect half of the additional $1.6 million Sparta makes from the higher tax rate.
“Your county people are coming to the city to buy products,” Hutchings said. “They’re going to Walmart in the city. They’re eating out at the city restaurants. So the county citizens are spending the money in the city and they’re not receiving benefit of the tax dollar that they’re spending, full benefit of the tax dollar they’re spending.”
The vote on the referendum will take place in March at the same time as the presidential primary. A vote failed earlier. Hutchings said the reason was a lack of education to ensure voters understood the benefits the tax increase will provide.
“We’re not able to campaign,” Hutchings said. “We’re not able to go out and send mailers out. We have to do it like personally, individually. I have to buy the supplies and send that out. I have to talk to my constituents to educate them on that. So that’s the biggest hurdle that we face. We’re not able to get out and advertise in the newspaper and do those kinds of things.”
Hutchings said it will be difficult to educate voters about the referendum before the vote because the presidential primary will bring in many more voters than usual.
“Is it better because there’s more people?” Hutchings said. “Yes, but then it makes it harder for us to educate those people so they understand what they’re actually voting for. Because most people will say, ‘I see tax and it’s automatic no,’ so you have to educate them why it needs to be a yes.”