FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (WHNT) - A tax hike on car tags is igniting yet another political firestorm in Lincoln County, Tennessee, with taxpayers now using the power of the pen to fight back.
Lincoln County commissioners voted to triple the county's wheel tax in August, but irate taxpayers have launched a petition drive that would give Lincoln County voters the final say later this year.
Organizers of the grassroots effort said they already have well over the 850 signatures that are required to get the tax question on the ballot. The new $75 fee is set to take effect in January, but a public referendum will be held sometime in December assuming the signatures are accepted.
Retiree Wayne McDow is one of the residents collecting signatures, and warned the new wheel tax rate would have a devastating impact on seniors who live on a fixed income.
"We the people of Lincoln County are tired of the things that are going on here," said McDow. "We're getting a real good response from a lot of the people...For seniors who may have to pay, that means you're short on groceries, you're short on the things you need at home, you're short on your medication money...We are tired of this mismanagement and misspending."
County leaders have said the additional wheel tax revenue is the only viable option left to fill funding holes for several county departments. Lincoln County Mayor Peggy Bevels told WHNT News 19 that public criticism of county finances was unfounded.
"I just wish that the public would trust us," said Bevels. "Until they get in here and work with these figures, work these departments, that's their opinion... I wish I could change it for them, but I can't do that."
Bevels said the extra $50 per motorist would bring in roughly $1.4 million of additional revenue per year. Officials said Lincoln County's current operating budget is approximately $40 million.