Since that time, there has been a great deal of controversy and questions have risen on how the tax will be paid, who will pay it and how will it be used. This is an attempt to address those questions.
The referendum on the wheel tax that will appear on the Aug. 6 ballot asks: “Shall a motor vehicle tax to be assessed on residents of Bradley County, Tennessee, beginning January 1, 2013, in an amount of $32 for each motor-driven vehicle and $16 for each motorcycle owned by them (except motor vehicles not taxed by the State of Tennessee and motor-driven vehicles owned by any governmental agency or governmental instrumentality), the proceeds to be dedicated to the Debt Service Fund, for principal, interest, and fees on education capital projects, be approved?”
According to Resolution 2012-13 passed by the Bradley County Commission on March 5, 2012, exemptions include motor-driven bicycles and scooters, farm tractors, self-propelled farm machines not usually used for operation on public highways. Other exemptions include former prisoners of war and disabled veterans with a 100 percent permanent service-connected disability as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The tax would be levied on large tractor-trailer trucks, but not trailers since they are not motor-driven vehicles.
The wheel tax will be included in registration notices from the Tennessee Department of Revenue and will be paid to the county clerk or through online registration through the state. Everyone not exempted by state law will be required to pay. However, low income elderly residents may apply for a refund from the Bradley County Commission if they are at least 65 years old and have an annual income of less than $14,100.
If approved by voters, the tax would support education projects for both the city and county school systems. Funds from the wheel tax will be used to address capital outlay projects that fall outside the scope of our annual operating budget. The county school system has three priority needs. At the top of the list is replacement of Blue Springs Elementary School which was destroyed in the April 2011 tornadoes; renovations and improvements for Lake Forest Middle School; and classroom expansion at Walker Valley High School.
The portion designated for Cleveland City Schools is also locked in to pay for capital improvements including, but not limited to Cleveland High School’s Science Wing, $7,324,527; Betsy Vines Theater renovation, $411,532; heating and air at Cleveland High School, $337,000; Stuart School renovation, $328,921; science equipment, $242,243; CHS tile, $81,969; annual technology upgrades, $81,041; maintenance vehicles, $51,847; Blythe-Bower windows, $23,027; art department equipment, $15,090; and chairs for the high school, $5,761. The partial list totals $8.925 million.