To the Editor:
Why did the Wilson County Commission vote to send the wheel tax to referendum? Unfortunately, nothing in government is as simple as it should be. The option was not to vote for or against a wheel tax.
The Commission had two choices. One was to vote to send the option to the voters in a referendum. This required a simple majority of 13 votes to pass. Option number two was to vote for a wheel tax without a referendum. This requires a super majority vote of 17 in two consecutive regularly scheduled meetings. The second option also required a 30-day waiting period to see if the voters would come up with a petition to require a referendum, which they did the last time the wheel tax came up.
If you want to be a Commissioner, you need to be able to count votes. There were barely 13 votes for a referendum. We did not and never did have 17 votes.
If you have live in Wilson County for 20 or more years, you know that the wheel tax is a very emotional and divisive issue.
The original wheel tax of $25 was to build the jail and upgrade WEMA and for schools. When the Board of Education had a $2.5 million shortfall (in the late 1980s), an additional $25 wheel tax was voted in for one year only to cover that shortfall. That $25 was removed at the end of a year.
The issue is not do we need a new LHS or not. The issue is, how do we pay for a new LHS? The cost will be around $50 million. We have enjoyed prosperity for many years in Wilson County for 20 or more years and the tax money from that prosperity has allowed us to build two high schools, a couple of elementary schools and remodel many others along with the many other needs of the county. The choice of where these schools were built was with the Board of Education, not the County Commission.
As many of you understand, we are still in the worst recession since the Depression. In this period, government must do what many of you are doing. We must cut back, pay off debt and wait for better times. I can assure you that I and the other 24 commissioners will continue to search for ways to build a new LHS.
The scripture says not to build the building without first counting the cost. The commission’s job is to be good stewards of the peoples’ money. In today’s economy, that is tough, but nevertheless a job we must do.
Bernie Ash, District 23Wilson County CommissionerLebanon
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