Petitions filed to hold vote on Hawkins County wheel tax increase

Petitions were submitted Monday calling for a referendum on whether a $40-per-vehicle wheel tax approved by the Hawkins County Commission will stand, reports the Rogersville Review.

The Commission had rejected the increase in a initial vote earlier this year, but then approved it after Jason Mumpower, deputy state comptroller, warned the officials that failure to enact a balanced county budget by July 1 would mean a state takeover of county finances.

Hawkins County Elections Administrator Donna Sharp says that, if the petitions contain enough valid signatures, a special election will be scheduled within 90 days at a cost of $70,000 or so.

Under state law the petitions must get signatures from 10 percent of voters casting ballots in the most recent election for governor, which works out to 1,095 for Hawkins County. Rogersville resident Hal Trent submitted a petition Monday that he estimates has approximately 2,000 names.

“They said there were still more petitions out, so I expect that we will receive more petition forms before 4 p.m. Wednesday (the deadline for filing),” Sharp told the Review.

Election Commission employees began the process on Monday of verifying that the signatures on the petition forms submitted by Trent are, in fact those of registered Hawkins County voters.

She explained that the process of verifying the signatures includes comparing those on the petition forms with those of registered voters shown on an Election Commission database.

…If a referendum on the wheel tax does happen (and the increase is repealed), the Comptroller of the Treasury may require the County Commission to increase the property-tax rate to balance the county budget in case the voters vote down the wheel-tax increase.

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