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Early voting begins on sales tax hike referendum

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Lebanon utility customers will find included on their bill information about the city’s special election set for Sept. 23 to raise the sales tax rate from 2.25 percent to 2.75 percent.

Early voting on the referendum, which would raise the city sales tax to 9.75 percent if approved, begins Wednesday, Sept. 3, and continues through Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Wilson County Election Commission, 203 East Main Street, Lebanon.

The hours are from 1 until 6 p.m., Sept. 3 and Sept. 18, and from 8 a.m. until noon, Sept. 4-17.

Lebanon Commissioner of Finance and Revenue Robert Springer said information will be included on utility bills about the election in an effort to increase voter turnout.

He was asked about including the information by Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath during Tuesday night’s regular Lebanon City Council meeting.

“We are,” Springer said after the meeting, noting it was too late to include anything on the bills that are to be mailed Wednesday, but will be found on the next bills sent in the weekly cycle.

The issue came about after former city councilor Kevin Huddleston addressed council about the referendum, councilors’ intentions regarding spending the money if the measure is approved by voters, the cost of the election at about $30,000 and the lack of information for voters about the election.

Huddleston said information about the election has been sparse, and apologized to local newspapers that might have someone from their staffs covering the meeting, but “everyone don’t read the papers.”

Ward 5 Councilor Tick Bryan agreed, noting the city could not force someone to read a paper.

Even so, stories have been in local papers, and Mayor Philip Craighead added that information had been posted on the city’s website.

Huddleston asked about sending information through the mail to city voters to better inform them about the referendum. A short time later, Warmath asked Springer about including information regarding the election on utility bills.

Craighead said he hopes voters will read the measure on the ballot, think about what is best for them as citizens and also think about what is best for the city.

He reiterated, after Huddleston asked council about what sort of commitment had been made on how to spend the extra funds generated by the increased city sales tax, that the funds would be applied toward the reduction of the city property tax by up to 30 percent and also to take care of infrastructure needs such as roads and sidewalks. Infrastructure improvements have been lacking in some instances due to a lack of funds.

Polls on Election Day, Sept. 23, will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. For more information on where to vote, visit www.wilsonelections.com or call 615-444-0216.

In other business, Jim Dunn, president of the Blairwood Downs neighborhood group, spoke to council about ongoing problems in the neighborhood with high water and runoff problems.

He spoke as a thunderstorm moved through Lebanon, bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds, along with lightning. At one point during the council meeting, the lights in the Town Meeting Hall flickered off and then back on.

Dunn presented council with several photographs showing high water in yards and said a neighbor of his constructed a plywood dam in front of his garage to try and keep the water out.

“I kind of feel sorry for that guy,” Dunn said, noting rather than doing other things, his neighbor must stay at home and watch the water rise.

However, Dunn received some good news as Craighead said work is set to begin in October in conjunction with the railroad that will include installation of 3- or 4-foot, larger culverts which “enables us to move on upstream. We have a plan. It’s scheduled.”

Dunn, who noted that he had been appearing before council concerning high water issues since 1998, said he and his neighbors appreciate knowing a plan is in place.

In other business, council deferred on first reading an ordinance to add Design Guidelines in the Lebanon Historic Preservation Commission section of the Zoning District. Craighead although public hearings have been held on the matter, council will take up the ordinance at its next meeting, and additional public hearings will be held as well.

Council also deferred and ordinance on first reading that would streamline the purchasing process for budgeted and non-budgeted purchases.

And council approved unanimously all other ordinances including one on first reading OK’ing the bid submitted by Steed Brothers Construction of Lebanon to construct a Water/Sewer Operations Building at $1,108,768, and another ordinance approving a bid of $659,408 submitted by Conrad Construction Company of Lebanon to build the Wilson Creek Sewer Interceptor.

Council nodded on first reading an ordinance to appropriate $2,000 from the city’s General Fund Balance to develop a documentary about the history and future of the Lebanon Municipal Airport called “Generations in Flight.”

Lebanon Airport Commission has approved also the appropriation of $2,000 from the Airport Operations Budget for the documentary.

The video documentary will be used to help recruit existing and new businesses in the area.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.com.

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Early voting, Lebanon City Council, Lebanon sales tax referendum, utility bills
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