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Wheel Tax or property tax.

Knox County residents will decide over the next two days and on Tuesday, Nov. 2, which it will choose to pay.

If the Wheel Tax fails to pass; then the citizens of Knox County will have an 18-cent property tax levied.

In the long run the government wins and gets its revenue from the citizens to fund its budget. The farragutpress realizes that funds are needed to build new schools and fund the various services that many have come to depend upon.

But the real issue is that in this process, democracy lost. The citizens were given a litany of items, topped off with a new downtown public library, and the news that the Wheel Tax would be increased 500 percent to fund the list.

The citizens of Knox County rose in protest and gathered more than 25,000 names to put the Tax on the ballot — democracy at work. The government retaliated by passing an 18-cent property tax that cannot be voted down by the citizens if the Wheel Tax fails — pseudo totalitarianism at work.

No one in government past or present has come out and said that this action is fair.

Why couldn’t government have gone back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan, a new budget, no one knows.

Governing is hard business. The charge of our elected officials is not to go out and find ways to spend money and then send the bill to the public, but also to go out and find ways to stimulate the economy in Knox County to generate more revenue for the county.

Where has local government accomplished this? What does Knox County produce? What is Knox County’s major attraction? What has government done to make Knox County a venue to attract tourist dollars? Where has government put Knox County on the map by making it the place to build a business and employ those that already live in the area and not import jobs with filled positions.

Yes, governing is hard work. It requires more than spending the money of others.

The farragutpress has supported the building of a new school in West Knox County. Government has known for more than 20 years of the growth in this area and has done nothing to address the future, which is now.

Because of public opinion, gears have now been shifted from a downtown library to a new school in West Knox County. Yet, has one shovel of dirt been turned?

What should have happened is a new school should have opened a few years ago and plans made for another new school to meet the next surge in population out West, which is coming according to economic indicators.

A year ago County Mayor Mike Ragsdale held an education summit — a meeting of the public, business and school personnel to tout the future of Knox County education. The 2005 budget followed in the spring of 2004 and the issues facing education — overcrowding the primary issue — were not addressed.

If Knox County government is putting education at the forefront of its priority list then why not, instead of boosting the Wheel Tax or property taxes, implement a School Tax.

A School Tax would generate funds countywide that would go directly to the building and funding of schools and make the Knox County education system a world-class system.

Government could — though it may require legislation from state government, which is more hard work — set up a tax similar to those found in Florida where each school receives funds from the county’s school tax revenue based on need and increases in the tax rate are approved by referendum.

Yes, the farragutpress realizes that growth needs revenue to fuel it, but government must do its part to keep as much burden off the taxpayers by progressive planning and by successfully implementing a strategy for economic development and not just rhetoric.


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