The motion did not ask Council members to support the tax, but merely support sending it to the voters. The motion passed by a vote of 5-2. At-Large Councilman Richard Banks; Bill Estes, 2nd District; Vice Mayor Avery Johnson, 3rd District; David May, 4th District; and Dale Hughes, 5th District; voted for the motion. At-Large Councilman George Poe and 1st District Councilman Charlie McKenzie voted against sending the referendum to the voters.
“I’m voting as a resident of Cleveland. I’m voting as a resident of Bradley County,” Estes said. “We have two very good school systems. It is unconscionable to me that Bradley County Schools is funded 132nd out of 136 school districts in the state of Tennessee based on the 2011 school report card.
“If the Bradley County Commission will not vote to fund them after the tornadoes and they’re going to put it on the voters and let the voters stand up and do what’s right, I will vote for it. I will support it.”
The motion was in support of a resolution passed by the Cleveland Board of Education in support of Bradley County resolutions 2012-13 and 2012-24.
The city schools’ portion of the wheel tax would include a maximum of $10.7 million. Any portion of the proceeds not used for interest, principal, fees or reserve of the 2014 capital project debt would be used to pay down existing education debt.
Cleveland Board of Education members endorsed the $32 wheel tax May 1, in a called session.
If approved by voters, the tax would support education projects for both the city and county school systems. The tax would be assessed when a vehicle is registered in Bradley County and go toward school-related construction projects.
City board members have said that if a wheel tax is not approved, Bradley County residents could face property tax increases in the future.