Have you ever played "Telephone Game?" It is used in groups to demonstrate the importance of communicating clearly with others. The game begins with the facilitator lining up players and whispering a statement into the first player's ear. Players are instructed to whisper that same statement to the next person until it reaches the end of the line. The last player repeats aloud what he heard. Errors typically occur with each retelling and the statement announced by the last player differs significantly from the original statement.
I often catch myself retelling a story even though I may not remember all the facts exactly as they were communicated to me. Even though I have no intention of misrepresenting the facts, I have no doubt this occasionally happens. Fortunately, stories about my last golf game or from my days of coaching football should not have a detrimental impact on our community.
There are times when issues under consideration by the Bradley County Commission generate interest among citizens. Commissioners welcome the input from a wide variety of citizens with different opinions. This input is integral to the decision-making process. The challenge for the County Commission and all decision-makers is to get accurate information to the citizens in order to receive input back from the citizens. Opinions that are formed based on inaccurate facts only lead to frustration for all.
Over the next few months, I hope that there is a great deal of discussion about the wheel tax referendum. It is important for voters to know the facts on the tax and to go vote on Aug. 2. The following are the basic facts on the wheel tax. The resolutions are available on the County Commission page on Bradley County’s website (www.bradleyco.net).
Resolution 2012-13, adopted by the County Commission on March 5, states that, "All of the proceeds of this tax shall be deposited in the Debt Service Fund, for principal, interest and fees on education capital projects."
Resolution 2012-24 further clarifies that, "The proposed 2014 capital projects debt would include up to $12,160,000 for a new academic building at Lake Forest Middle School; $2,000,000 for an eight (8) classroom pod at Walker Valley High School; $7,140,000 for a new Blue Springs School; and $10,700,000 for the Cleveland City Schools."
The three county school projects were the top three on a prioritized list submitted by the Bradley County Board of Education. The Cleveland Board of Education plans to use the funds to address the overcrowding issues at the elementary schools.
If the wheel tax is approved by voters in August, it will be implemented beginning Jan. 1, 2013. The revenue from the wheel tax, if approved, will fund a bond payment on the specific projects referenced in Resolution 2012-24. The funds cannot be used for any other purpose.
The County Commission has the ability to increase the property tax rate without a referendum. The Commission could also implement a wheel tax by a two-thirds vote in two consecutive meetings. In choosing a wheel tax referendum to fund education capital projects, it gives Bradley County residents an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
Franklin D. Roosevelt communicated this concept well when he said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
Please feel free to contact your county commissioners with any questions you have concerning the Wheel Tax Referendum or any other issue under consideration. A list of county commissioners and contact information is also available on the county’s website. Exercise your right to vote on Aug. 2 or during early voting from July 13-28.