Sales tax increase back on the ballot

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A sales tax increase is back on the ballot. Voters will decide whether or not to increase the local sales tax from 2.25 percent to 2.75 percent.

“To be honest, I really don’t think that’s a buying decision,” said Eddie Wiggins, owner of Radio Shack in Jacksboro. “If somebody’s going to buy something, their going to buy it.”

Wiggins believes people who shop in Campbell County are interested in supporting the local economy.

“I’m still going to buy here,” he said. “Half a percent isn’t going to stop me.”

Wiggins pointed out some shopping destinations outside Campbell County already have a 2.75 percent tax rate.

“All the county’s doing here is losing money for themselves,” he said.

Should voters give the resolution the nod, the increased rate would generate about $1,567,000 in revenue, Campbell County Director of Finance Jeff Marlow estimated. However, The majority of this money, $1.37 million, would come from within municipal boundaries. Half of this money, $685,000, would be allocated to the school system, and the other half would go to the applicable municipalities, Marlow said. Only $197,000 of this money would be generated outside municipal boundaries. Half, $98,000, would go to the school system, with only the remaining half being able to go to improving roads.

While state law restricts the commission from putting a sales tax increase on the ballot that can generate revenue that will serve its intended purpose, the commission was able to redirect funds from elsewhere to effectively fund improving roads. At its Sept. 17 meeting, the commission passed a resolution to redirect 50 percent of the wheel tax to improving the roads should the resolution to increase the sales tax pass. This resolution will only be effective if the sales tax increase passes. Currently, 100 percent of the wheel tax is allocated to the school system. If the sales tax increase passes, it would redirect $783,000 of wheel tax revenue from the school system to improving the roads. The school system wouldn’t lose any revenue, because state law mandates it receive $783,000 of the money generated from the sales tax increase. With allocations from sales taxes and the wheel tax, the highway department would receive $881,000 if the sales tax increase passes.

There isn’t a limit to the amount of times the resolution to increase the sales tax rate can be put on the ballot, Marlow said. However, the attempts must be separated by at least six months.