Hawkins County Commissioners to once again vote on $40 wheel tax increase

HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Hawkins County Commissioners will vote once again on increasing the wheel tax.

The proposal has been brought up for the past few months.

Hawkins County Mayor Melville Bailey says the resolution is crucial to help put money in the general fund.

“The $40 wheel tax is an attempt to offset a $2 million deficit,” Mayor Bailey said.

The general fund helps pay for 91 different departments and agencies in the county.

“We’re in all likelihood going to need some form of revenue, either through a wheel tax or through a property tax. And the wheel tax seems to be the best option at this time,” Bailey said.

Commissioner John Metz sponsored the proposal. He told News Channel 11 that this was a “do or die” situation.

Bailey says they have looked at other options other than a tax increase.

“We’ve looked at budget cuts, we’ve talked to different elected officials to see if there’s some place they can trim their budget. Everyone seems to have tried to do that,” he said.

Mayor Bailey says this wheel tax proposal is different than the ones brought up in previous months because it doesn’t have a sunset clause.

“What that meant was it would start on a particular date and it would end on a particular date, and this one does not contain that,” he explained.

The state charges $24 to renew tags. Counties have the option of passing a wheel tax on top of that.

Currently, Hawkins County’s wheel tax is $27, compared to $55 in Greene County and $40 in Johnson County. Sullivan, Washington, Carter and Unicoi Counties do not have a wheel tax.

If approved, this will make Hawkins County’s wheel tax the most expensive in the Tri-Cities region.

Those in Hawkins County currently pay $51 to renew their tags.

This proposal would bring it to nearly $100 per vehicle, which has some, like Paul Fisher, worried.

“Don’t raise it. I mean it’s high enough as it is. If anything, give us a little break on it,” Fisher said.

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