An effort to revive a proposed $30 wheel tax increase spun out of control during Monday night’s meeting of the Warren County Commission.
“This feels like one of the most reckless things that could possibly happen in a commission meeting,” said Commissioner Christy Ross. “We shouldn’t throw something out and hope we are getting it right. This is reckless. This vote, right now to me and in my opinion, on a wheel tax is reckless. As advised by counsel, it is completely reckless.”
Her statement came after more than 30 minutes of back and forth between commissioners debating a motion by Commissioner Steven Helton to place the wheel tax resolution on the July docket after it was pulled from consideration last month.
The wheel vote failed 21-2. Commissioners Ross, Michael Bell, Carl D. Bouldin, Carl E. Bouldin, Carlene Brown, Randy England, Deborah Evans, Steven Glenn, Richard Grissom, Robert Hennessee, Lori Judkins, Ron Lee, Gary Martin, Daniel Owens, Scott Rubley, Tommy Savage, Tyrone Sparkman, Joseph Stotts, Phillip Stout, Cole Taylor and Blaine Wilcher voted against adding the measure to the docket.
Helton and Commissioner Gary Prater voted in favor of its inclusion.
Helton said he asked County Executive Jimmy Haley that three items of business be placed on the docket, but the wheel tax resolution was not.
“I would like to add the wheel tax to the docket,” said Helton. “I requested three resolutions be placed. Two of those landed on this docket. One did not. I am asking the court, if they would, add that line item onto old business so we can discuss where or not to have a $30 wheel tax.”
He requested the dates on the original resolution be changed for reconsideration and the document also be changed to state any revenue generated from the wheel tax increase be placed in the county’s General Fund. The original stated the funds would be placed in the county’s Debt Service.
Haley protested, “I don’t have a copy of this resolution where you make those changes in it and the changes to the dates. I don’t know how we can add something to an agenda where I do not have a copy of the resolution or a change from the Debt Service to the General Fund and the two different dates of voting in July and August. I don’t have that resolution. The only one I have is the last one that was tabled in the last meeting.”
Haley did recommend that the item could be brought up under the agenda item called “old business” later on in the meeting.
“That’s not a prudent financial move,” said county attorney Robert Bratcher. “I can’t advise that you do that. The best bet would be to have that wheel tax resolution run through a committee, make sure it’s drafted and make sure it’s stamped, approved and sent in. That’s the way I’d recommend it be done.”
The failed attempt, said Helton, was an effort to reduce the size of the proposed property tax increase of 28 cents and spread the burden to those who don’t own property.