Despite Vote, Wheel Tax Back on Table

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) - Months after voters reject a wheel tax, leaders in one county say they may get one anyway.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Blount County Bureau Chief Stephen McLamb joins us right now with more on what's going on.

The wheel tax is back on the table in Blount County.

Mayor Jerry Cunningham sees the wheel tax as an investment, not necessarily a tax.

He says the money raised would help the county get grants from Washington to use on roads.

The voters said no but that's not stopping the idea of the wheel tax continuing.

"Anytime you put a tax out on a referendum it's going to fail," says Mayor Cunningham.

So the mayor hopes to get the public educated on the benefits. He says a ten dollar per year charge on vehicles would bring in a million in revenue which would be used for grants. Cunningham says two million over two years would gain all together 10 million and the money earmarked.

"It's not going for travel. It's not going for trips. It's not going for anything except straight into the highway department," Cunningham.

Money for new roads, bridges, and infrastructure, an investment he says would be fair to property owners and non-property tax owners.

"There are a lot of illegals driving around here in Blount County who own cars. They would be taxed this ten dollars," Cunningham says.

Some on the commission are skeptical.

"I believe that a clear indication of what the public wanted was given in the last election," says Commissioner Mike Walker.

"We're going to need input on if we think it should go through or not. I personally believe it's a great idea in that we will get so much bang for our buck," says Commissioner Tonya Burchfield.

But some in the community are also skeptical.

"I agree maybe the roads might need improvement and I have no problem with something like that but not if the people voted against it," says Danny Sullivan.

"I think there's plenty of money going around Blount County without us having to pay extra taxes. I pay enough taxes as it is. Now I don't need another one," says Lora Galluzzi.

Blount resident Grant Spires says he wishes it would pass only because he wants the issue to go away.

But the mayor has a new selling point he wants people to consider.

Unlike many taxes which never seem to end, Cunningham says his plan would only be for two or three years because many grants only last for a certain time period.


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