Voters reject 1/2 cent sales tax for education

With all precincts reporting, unofficial totals on the 1/2 cent sales tax referendum show voters are unwilling to approve an additional sales tax in Blount County, even with the money earmarked for education.

Vote totals were 30,871 against and 18,124 in favor of a 1/2 cent increase in local sales tax, with the increase earmarked for local schools.

In the race for Maryville City schools, Doug Jenkins and Charles West were appointed to the two seats. Vote totals were Jenkins -- 6,175; West -- 6,090; Bethany Hodson Pope -- 5,532.

In the Townsend referendum to allow the sale of wine, the referendum passed with 127 voting For and 106 Against.

In the Louisville Alderman race, Steve Dixon and Joe Gallagher are the two winners. Vote totals are Dixon -- 867; Gallagher -- 667; Michael Mund -- 463.

In Alcoa, Clayton Bledsoe and Ken White defeated George Williams for the two Board of Commissioners positions.

Vote totals for Alcoa are Bledsoe -- 1,886; White -- 1,791; Williams -- 1,759.

In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander and incumbent Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. easily won their seats. Locally, State Rep. Doug Overbey defeated independent Ira Lapides of Gatlinburg for the 8th State Senatorial District seat. In Blount County, vote totals were Overbey -- 37,680; Lapides -- 8,636.

County Commissioner Robert Ramsey was unopposed for the 20th District House seat. Incumbent 8th District state Rep. Joe McCord, a Republican, also had no opposition.

In the Maryville city elections, Mayor Joe Swann and Council Member Tom Taylor were the only two candidates for two positions. Mayor Swann, however, announced at the Maryville City Council meeting tonight that, while he will remain on council, he will not seek the position of mayor. He will have been mayor of six years.

Maryville City Council also appointed Fred Metz to fill the seat left vacant by the death earlier this year of Ron Ivens. It took five ballots for the council to decide between Metz, Dee Dee Christopher and Teresa Horn.

Metz's term will expire in November of 2010.

The push for the local sales tax referendum began in August when a group of influential Blount County residents formed Blount Countians for Educational Excellence to pursue a county-wide referendum to raise the local option sales tax by a half-cent with the mantra, "A half-cent is money well spent." The motivation for the move was to get the last half-cent of sales tax for local schools before the state General Assembly moved to take it to fund schools across the state.

Among the key points the grassroots group is emphasizing is:

• If the vote fails to pass in the county, the cities could vote on the tax with all monies going to the cities.

• The State of Tennessee is in a financial shortfall. The State of Tennessee could opt to raise the local option sales tax, meaning they would collect any additional revenue and redistribute it as they see fit across the state.

Based on 2007 sales tax receipts, the group estimates the added tax would raise approximately $7.7 million each year, with the likelihood of 2 percent increases each year. Blount County Schools would enjoy roughly $2.9 million in extra funding every year. Under state law, cities and counties in Tennessee can levy up to a 2.75 percent local option sales tax. The local option in Blount County is currently 2.25 percent.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 1

mysterio writes:

Good riddance to a bad idea. The winners here are the poor and middle class whose budgets are being spread thin right now.

My wife works for the county school system and everyone in her department received a bonus last week. How could the irresponsible leaders in our local education system hand out bonuses and then insist they need to raise taxes to get more money "for the children?" Totally irresponsible...