The commission avoided a possible special election in October by voting to put the wheel tax question on the March ballot.
If the tax passes, the referendum states that the commission will use that money to offset the property tax hike that was approved in August, Commission Chairman Les Price said.
Marion County Commissioner Mack Reeves said county residents simply don’t trust the commission to do what it says it will do with the money, and many think the wheel tax will be raised in the future.
Commissioner Ralph Pickett said he has been told by constituents that they don’t believe the commission’s intentions.
After speaking with Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger, Commissioner Reeves said approving a resolution stating that the board would not raise the wheel tax might be an option, but some commissioners questioned how binding that measure would be.
“I think it would be a good idea [to approve that resolution] to build some credibility with the people in the county,” Reeves said.
Gouger said a resolution “would last until a future County Commission decided they wanted to change the resolution.”
The wheel tax money must be used to offset the property tax hike for the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to the March referendum.
Gouger said in the years beyond that commissioners will have different options and also said that state law does not fix a limit on a wheel tax.
Instead of drafting a resolution, commissioners voted 12-3 to draft a letter explaining the purpose of the wheel tax that would be submitted to local and area newspapers.
Commissioner Don Adkins said the board understands what it wants to do with the wheel tax, but the public doesn’t.
Adkins went on to say, “A lot of the questions that have been raised are about the amount of the wheel tax and how that money will be utilized. We need to educate the public about what our intentions were and let them decide with the referendum in March.”
Information from Chattanooga Times Free Press