The Carter County Commission approved a motion Monday asking citizens to renew the one quarter of one percent sales for providing funds for technology equipment and instructional and classroom materials for all common school districts in the county.
They also approved a motion to ask citizens to renew the one quarter of one percent sales tax for constructing, repairing and maintaining county roads and bridges.
Both of these taxes currently exist in Carter County, but expire every five years. Citizens will vote this fall but an exact date for the special election has not yet been set.
“This sales tax has been around for some time,” said Jerry Alvord, commissioner for district 3. “With the states deficit being what it is, they have cut our funding for five years in a row. Yet, our costs keep increasing.”
In 2014, the state commissioner for district 3. “With the states deficit being what it is, they have cut our funding for five years in a row. Yet, our costs keep increasing.”
In 2014, the state legislature cut funding statewide for county roads and bridges by $10 million. In 2015, the legislature again cut funding, dramatically slashing the budget for county roads by $50 million while capping motor vehicle funds at 2015 levels.
Last year, the legislature capped gas, diesel and gross production tax levels to be collected by counties at 2013 levels — meaning the sales tax revenues can never exceed the amount they were in 2013. If production increases, the excess revenues will not go to the county, but to the state.
“The bottom line is, for counties there really is no fat to cut out,” Alvord said. “Transportation is something we have to provide. This tax is about safety on our roads and it’s up to (residents) if they want to continue to pay it. The outcome of the election should be the way the voters want it. We just want to provide services for them, but if the funding diminishes so will the services.”
Voters will also decide if they want to continue funding schools in Carter County.
“Before this sales tax was enacted teachers had to buy some of their own supplies and now with this sales tax schools can buy the supplies — meaning teachers don’t have to spend as much out of their own pockets,” said Joe David McReynolds, commissioner from district one.
All of the commissioners agree that these taxes are vital to maintaining the current standards of services provided to citizens.
“I just want to reiterate that everything we do comes at a cost,” said Bill Baker, commissioner for district three. “We need the money to maintain, repair, and move forward with our roads. With cuts from the state, these taxes are increasingly necessary. As far as the school tax, well you just can’t put a price on education.”
In other business, the commissioners approved an inter-local agreement between Carter and Love counties that will allow the counties to loan each other equipment and manpower to complete certain projects. The agreement was initiated because the commission wanted to help Love County after their distributer truck broke down. Carter County will let Love County use one of its trucks until they are able to get theirs fixed.