Full commission will now vote on tax referendum

Posted By | June 6, 2019 10:11 am

By Rachel Auberger

White County Commission’s Steering Committee B passed a resolution Monday night that would authorize a levy of additional sales and use tax throughout the county. The city has already passed a similar resolution.

The resolution will now be heard in front of the full commission. If the commission approves the resolution, the entire population of White County will have an opportunity to vote on the tax hike. If they do not approve it, only residents within the city limits will have the opportunity to vote on the measure.

If the resolution is approved by the full court, Steering Committee B set the election to coincide with the presidential primary. Steering Committee A and Steering Committee B both had a chance to vote on the resolution. Committee A voted against the measure by a margin of 4 to 2.

Roger Mason said he has gotten feedback from residents in the county.

“Everybody I have talked to – the concern they have is that, if the city holds the referendum and it passes, you have got 5,000 people in the City of Sparta voting on something that is going to affect the 27,000 residents of White County,” said Mason. “Everybody shops at Walmart here in town that lives in county. And, if they are going to be affected by it, they want a voice.”

Dillard Quick disagreed.

“I don’t know what we are spending the money on,” he said. “I don’t know why we are doing it. If we had a reason, it would be different, but I don’t like raising taxes just to be raising them. But, at the same time, I don’t want the school system to go without either. So, that’s why I am torn.”

During a work session last week, White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson laid out the details.

“ … this is $500,000 dollars we could take off our property tax that we put toward the school system and use it in county general,” said Robinson. “If we decide to go forward and jump on this, the net gain from the sales tax revenue is going to be around $140,000. If we offer to the county residents to make this revenue neutral…$145,000 gain is about three cents on property tax. We could go in and say, if you raise the sales tax rate a half a percent, we will lower the property tax and make it revenue neutral. That’s $500,000 that would be going to the school system if we jump on board and do this. The county opting in would add about $145,000 more to the schools, if the referendum is passed county-wide.”

According to Robinson, if the county votes to opt in, the referendum then becomes a county-wide referendum. But, if it is voted down county-wide, the city can then come in and have its own referendum. Stanley Neal, Robert Dale Bennett, and Dakota White were not present. Their votes could make the difference when the resolution comes to the floor at the next county commission, which is June 17.

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