Increase in sales and use tax put to public referendum for City of Sparta
By Sparta Live | May 9, 2019 10:31 am
By Ron Moses
Sparta Mayor and Board of Aldermen has voted to approve an ordinance that would increase sales and use tax in the city of Sparta and to request a public referendum on that same ordinance.
The rate would increase from 2.25 to 2.75 percent, if approved.
“We have all yielded many complaints through the years about the conditions of our roads,” said Sparta Mayor Jeff Young, during the May 2 meeting. “85 percent of the calls I get are usually about a road or a pothole or something like that in our community. Most cases we absolutely agree that it needs to be fixed, but it is not in our funds to do it.”
Young said the increase has been tried before.
“It takes a long time to educate folks on what you want to use this tax money for,” he said. “It’s not anything like property tax where everyone that owns property has to pay it. It’s a sales tax. Tourists and visitors will help pay a portion. We want to make sure this money goes to road repair in our community.”
Young said it is very important the city makes an effort to increase the tax, stating the city deserves better roads and has for a long time.
“Doing it this way will give the taxpayers in our community the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want these additional funds, so that we can do the road repair,” said Young.
Young continued to say that no one on the board is in favor of higher taxes, and, that in his 14 years on the board, they have worked hard every year to keep taxes low. However, the mayor said increased rates is the best way to secure road repair the community desperately needs.
Vice Mayor Jim Floyd said the city is in “dire need” of road repair.
“If we can’t get this passed, the only other option we are going to have is to raise property taxes,” said Floyd.
Young said if the city doesn’t increase the tax, the state may.
“A few years back, it was talked about at the state level,” he said. “If cities like us did not increase that the state was looking at it like, if you do not need it, we do. If the state of Tennessee ever takes that sales tax up half a percent and puts that in the state coffers, that money is gone from our community from now on, and we will never get it back.”
The ordinance and referendum were approved but, not unanimously.
Aldermen Jerry Lowery was the dissenting vote.