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Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Cocke County Wheel Tax ????
The Cocke County Legislative Body(CLB) meeting Monday evening spent time talking about the feasibility of placing a wheel tax referendum on the ballot next year. All of the surrounding counties except for Sevier County, which has a large amount of revenue from the tourism industry, have a wheel tax. Frequently critics of a wheel tax argue that the tax could be increased in the future. But according to Kaley Walker, an advisor with CTAS(County Technical Assistance Service), the tax could be raised only by going through the wheel tax procedure again. Cocke County is facing major financial expenditures for a jail, school building program and road needs; possibly to the tune of $30 to $40 million. Walker recently compiled numbers for the CLB to consider when contemplating a wheel tax. She previously said a referendum on the issue rarely results in the approval of a wheel tax. She says there are 38,846 registered vehicles in the county. However exemptions for veterans, handicapped, and government tags likely would reduce the number of taxed vehicles by at least 3,900. In addition, the county has 1,409 registered motorcycles, and Walker calculated a wheel tax collection on motorcycles at 50 percent of a four-wheeled vehicle. So the advisor says a $20 tax on cars and $10 on motorcycles would produce annual revenue of nearly $676,000. A $25/$12.50 tax would collect $845,000 annually; $30/$15 tax would net $1,014,000; a $40/$20 tax would raise $1,352,000 and a $50/$25 tax would bring in more than $1,689,000. Currently, one-cent on the Cocke County property tax rate brings in revenue of about $55,000.

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