WHEEL TAX: What do your commissioners say?

By Stephen S. Glass
Star Staff

   Early voting on the Carter County wheel tax referendum begins Wednesday. According to county commissioners, a wheel tax will generate $1 million in new revenue for Carter County.
   Most commissioners say the wheel tax is the "most fair" way to raise revenue without further burdening property owners, who, though a minority, pay the largest percentage of tax to fund county services.
   If the tax passes, the new revenue will be divided among schools, highways, the general fund, and debt service.
   Schools will receive the largest slice of the new revenue -- 56 percent, or an estimated $560,000 annually. Elizabethton City Schools will share a portion of that money -- 26.7 percent, or $149,520.
   The general fund will receive the second-largest percentage -- 31 percent, or $310,000. The general fund covers all county offices and services other than highways and schools.
   Debt service will receive 10 percent, or $100,000. Debt service pays debts for most county offices, including debt for school building projects.
   The highway department will receive 3 percent, or $30,000.
   Here are the arguments for and against the tax from your commissioners.
   1st District

   Adie Hyder: "I believe the people should stand up and vote for this tax. We have 56,000 cars in this county, and only 16,000 or 17,000 landowners. The landowners shouldn't have to carry us through all the low times when we are in trouble. I Know that taxes are not pleasant. My husband owns Hyder carpet and he has a lot of trucks we'll have to pay for. But, yes, I will certainly vote for the wheel tax."
   Voting Yes
Ted Weaver: "I'm not pushing for nor against the wheel tax. I think we've put it out there, and now we'll see where the people stand on the issue. I will vote, but I won't say how."
   Voting ?
   Buford Peters: "People have to make up their own minds. It's their privilege to vote however they want. Really, there are 3 options: wheel tax, property tax, or cut the budget. As far as my vote, I think that's my own business."
   Voting ?
   2nd District

   Wayne Holtsclaw: "I'm going to vote for it. I think other people ought to vote for it. There are 56,000 people in Carter County, but only 17,000 property owners. Is it fair to have the property owners paying for everything?"
   Voting Yes
   Ralph Watson: "No comment."
   Voting ?
   R.L. Miller: "To me it's a matter of a wheel tax or property tax. Personally, I think it's the most fair choice. That's why we put the vote to the public."
   Voting yes
   3rd District

   Harry Sisk: "I hope the people understand that if the wheel tax doesn't go through, they're probably looking at a significant property tax increase next year. Seven cents just covered the bare minimum this year. We've had increases in expenses since then that aren't funded in this year's budget."
   Voting Yes
   Joe Woods: "I'd be foolish not to vote for it. And I'd be foolish not to ask my people to vote for it. Next year we're going to have a shortfall if this doesn't go through, and the only way to make that up will be with a property tax increase."
   Voting Yes
Jerry Pearman was not available for comment at press time.
   4th District

   Chuck Culler: "I hope the people vote it in. We need to come up with some money, and this is the best way -- the most fair way -- I figure we can do it. I plan to vote for it personally."
   Voting Yes
Phil Nave was not available for comment at press time.
   Wayne Smith:
"I think that the property owners of Carter County should really look at the issue and know that if this doesn't pass that the budget will either have to be drastically cut next year or taxes will go up."
   Voting ?
   5th District

   Dickie Renfro: "I just hope the people realize we need this money to operate our county. I've been out talking to people, and I hope that everybody in the 5th District will vote for it. If we don't, it probably means a property tax increase next year. I'm definitely voting for it."
   Voting Yes
   Jo Ann Blankenship: "I hope that some of the money will be used to hire a financial director to oversee all departments of county government. Right now, everybody seems to be accusing everybody else of not spending their money the way they should. A lot of people say that certain departments can't explain their budgets. I think it is of utmost importance to have a financial director, especially since we'll be losing Mr. Clark as County Executive next year. We're going to need someone in there who understands the laws that govern finance and state grants and so forth."
   Voting Yes
Charlie Bayless: "I've been for the wheel tax. It all depends on what the people of Carter County want. If the people don't want a property tax, they ought to vote for the wheel tax. We need money one way or the other. We're down to bare bones."
   Voting Yes

   6th District
   Terry Montgomery:
"I don't think it will pass. If we were able to put a cap on it to ensure that it wouldn't start out at $20 and wind up at $50, I'm sure more people would be in favor of it. I will vote for it, but reluctantly.
   Voting Yes (reluctantly)
   Brad Green
was not available for comment at press time.
   Larry McKinney:
"I'm for it. I'm going to vote for it. But I also voted to put this on the ballot because I don't want to throw it down anybody's throat."
   Voting Yes

   7th District
   Jeff Treadway:
"A vote against the wheel tax is a vote for property tax. With my kids, we have six cars in the family, and I still intend to vote 'yes'."
   Voting Yes
   Lynn Tipton
was not available for comment at press time.
   Sid Cox
was not available for comment at press time.
   8th District

   Roy D. Merryman: "If this tax does not pass, I'll go ahead and tell you that an increase in property tax or cuts in service are evident. I don't mind to tell you that I plan to vote yes on the wheel tax."
   Voting Yes
   Bill Armstrong: "I just feel it's fair for people to know that if the wheel tax doesn't pass, there will have to be a tax increase next year. The state is cutting back on their appropriations to the counties. We could be looking at big reductions in funds to Carter County. Sure, I'm for the wheel tax."
   Voting Yes.
Donald Treadway was not available for comment at press time.
   Early voting at the Carter County Courthouse begins Wednesday, Oct. 6, and will continue through Wednesday, Oct. 31. Voting hours are 9 a.m.-4p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturdays.
   Regular voting will be Tuesday, Nov. 6.