Washington County voters will decide a sales tax referendum when they go to the polls Aug. 7. Seven percent of the 9.5 percent sales tax now collected in Washington County goes to the state. Members of the city and county boards of education would like to see the local rate raised from the current 2.5 percent to the maximum 2.75 percent state law to fund local schools.
The last sales tax hike in Washington County was approved in May 1994. City and county school officials banded together then to push passage of a countywide referendum to raise the local option sales tax from 2.25 percent to where it stands today at 2.50 percent. It was a close vote, with 6,720 voting for it and 5,208 voting against it. Just two years earlier, a sales tax referendum in November was defeated by a lopsided count of 10,266 for to 15,622 against.
Proceeds from the sales tax hike went to fund what city officials dubbed the People’s Education Plan. Much of the credit for passing the referendum was given to school board members from both systems, who actively campaigned for its passage.
Now, some Washington County officials want to see city commissioners voice their support for the Aug. 7 referendum. As Press staff writer Gary B. Gray reported last month, county attorney John Rambo has asked city leaders to approve a resolution voicing their support of the sales tax referendum. Rambo also requested that city officials approve an agreement pledging to join the county in earmarking all new revenues from the sales tax hike for education. We want to know what you think. Should Johnson City commissioners be asking voters to approve a sales tax hike?
Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or firstname.lastname@example.orgâ€‰ .
Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks. You also can go to www.johnsoncitypress.com to cast a vote in the online poll. Results of the poll, along with comments from readers, will appear on the Opinion page Feb. 14.