Two controversial resolutions may have a rebirth sometime down the road. But, for the moment, the road department wheel tax and the so-called ‘junk’ resolutions are in limbo.
The Claiborne Commission, in regular session, struck the junk resolution from the agenda early into the meeting. The resolution to revoke the $25 wheel tax was eventually tabled – meaning, it could be brought back for vote at any time or, could never again see the light of day, depending on the will of the commission.
Commissioner Mike Campbell, who sponsored the ‘junk’ resolution, said that he felt the document needs additional verbiage to fully explain the specific perimeters that the legislation would encompass.
It looks as though Campbell was inundated with angry responses from individuals who feared their ‘treasures’ might be ordered removed from their properties, or worse.
It is likely the commissioner will introduce a new ‘junk’ resolution during a future meeting.
During the November meeting, county attorney James Estep III explained the idea behind the proposed resolution.
At that time, Estep said the document would address remedies for the amount of junk, trash and abandoned vehicles on and alongside properties countywide.
The resolution would provide a “mechanism” to help the county clean up the widespread problem and would likely include enough “teeth” to mandate the removal or the privacy fencing of properties that currently house junk cars, tires and other eyesores, he said.
The revocation of the road department wheel tax was tabled by a vote of 18 to three. Commissioners Whitt Shuford, Charlton Vass and Bill Keck were the three no votes.
The commissioners spent a bit of time discussing the actual meaning of the resolution, sponsored by Shuford. Some seemed unsure of the true purpose of the document, which states in part that, upon adoption, the wheel tax would be revoked and rescinded.
Shuford said the original resolution, adopted in October of 2015, stated there would be an annual review by both the budget committee and the full county commission.
At that time, Shuford said commissioner William Jessie had asked whether the tax could be revoked, at a later date.
According to the minutes of that meeting, the answer was ‘yes,’ said Shuford.
“Since the budget committee and we (the commission) have not discussed the continuation of this tax, I felt it was pertinent to go ahead and bring it up, tonight. If we wait until next month – and, hypothetically, should the wheel tax disappear, you’re going to have people from January 1st to January 23rd paying more than people that come in on the 24th to get their tags,” said Shuford.
The county could expect quite a few irate phone calls if this should happen, he said.
Commissioner Shawn Peters said he understood the commission had initially planned to ‘look into it’ later.
“I think it’s a shame to even consider doing this (revoking the wheel tax) at this point. We’re making more progress (on road repairs) in the last six months. We’ve had more done to the roads in Claiborne County than we’ve had the last 60 years,” said Peters.
Shuford questioned whether doing nothing now would cause the wheel tax to automatically ‘die’ on January 1, or would it continue, in perpetuity.
“I’m just trying to make sure we are covered, legally, if we allow this to continue without discussion,” said Shuford.
Commissioner James Hatmaker equated some of the legislation adopted by the county as moving ‘one step forward and three steps backward.’
Hatmaker seemed to question the sense in stopping the wheel tax now, when the county road department is handling repayment of debt acquired before road superintendent Ronnie Pittman took office.
“To me, it’s foolish to do away with something that seems to be doing good,” said Hatmaker.
Commissioners Dennis Estes and Mitchell Cosby said they would like to see more road repairs done inside their districts than is currently being completed.
Commissioner Jessie said it seemed to him that the same roadways are being “paved and repaved.”
Cosby asked if the amendment he had made to the original wheel tax resolution last year would still stand, if the commission decided not to vote on the issue that evening.
His amendment ensured that the wheel tax would be voided if the funds were used for any other purpose than the road department.
A consensus of the board seemed to agree that the amendment would remain intact.
Commissioner Danny Longworth said he felt the commission had “done what it was supposed to do” by reviewing the issue. He then made a motion to table the matter indefinitely.
After a bit of discussion, commission chairman David Mundy said the resolution could not be indefinitely tabled.
The motion was then amended to simply table the wheel tax resolution. Commissioner Steve Mason seconded the motion.
Commissioners Campbell, Estes, Cosby, Mason, Peters, Longworth, Jessie, Mundy, Hatmaker, Zachary Bunch, Juanita Honeycutt, Gary Poore, Ann Bowling, Nicholas Epperson, Anthony Rowe, Joan Cosby, Billy Johnson and Aimee Upton voted in favor of the measure.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.