Knox County Commissioner Paul Pinkston pushes wheel tax repeal

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Knox county commissioner says it's time to make big changes to the county's tax system, and it could have an effect on the taxes you pay.

It's a proposal he says treats taxpayers more fairly, while helping the county get the revenue it needs.

Commissioner Paul Pinkston is talking about getting rid of the county wheel tax completely. But there's one big catch -- another tax would have to be increased.

Every time you go to renew your license plate in Knox County, you pay a wheel tax of $36 per vehicle. Commissioner Paul Pinkston says that's not a fair tax and he wants to get rid of it.

Pinkston says, "We just need to try and help the people that need help out here in the community that are going to work everyday, struggling to make a living."

Pinkston says increasing the property tax rate by $0.15 cents is the answer. He says that would force people in more expensive homes to bear more of the tax burden. As it stands now, every car pays a one-size-fits-all tax, $36. Still, some who paid the wheel tax at the courthouse today are skeptical when there's talk of abolishing a tax.

Knoxville resident Jeffrey Pipkin says, "If they get rid of one they'll just raise something else, it's going to even out in the end."

Pinkston says it will actually be better for most tax payers. He says those with homes worth $150,000 or less who own two cars would come out ahead. Some say taxes are just part of the problem.

Knox County resident Carl Wallace says, "Money's getting spent in places it shouldn't be. The taxpayer has to come up with that and that's just uncalled for."

Pinkston wants to cut spending too...claiming county debt has doubled in six years. He proposes all county departments cut budgets by two percent, a six million dollar savings. He says no county employee making more than $75,000 would get a raise, and no new county jobs would be created next year.

Pinkston says, “I don't want to end up like Memphis. Memphis, whether you realize it or not, owes more than the state of Tennessee, I don't want to be that. I don't want to be broke"

For now, this idea is just that -- one commissioner’s idea.

He says he just wanted to get other commissioners thinking about it before they meet to talk about the budget Wednesday.

Pinkston knows this idea won't be popular in every corner, and it won't mean anything unless 10 of 19 commissioners agree on it.


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