City council backs gas tax

Lenoir City Council approved a resolution Monday supporting Gov. Bill Haslam’s recommendation to increase the state gas tax.

Vice Mayor Eddie Simpson made a motion and Councilwoman Jennifer Wampler seconded in order to send the resolution to Nashville. The vote passed 6-0.

Simpson, who also serves as the county’s road superintendent, wanted the resolution on Monday’s agenda to emphasize what the county and city have to gain from implementing the tax.

“I just think it’s a win-win thing if we could ask (Haslam) to continue forth with the effort,” Simpson said. “... He has several things that he’s planning to do to make up the difference, so it’ll be very little if no impact on the taxpayers, ratepayers, but it will — in his estimation it’s around $40 a year that it could cost the consumers. I think what the benefit is, the county, they stand to make an additional $200,000 a year from that gas tax. That’ll go a long way to paving more of the streets that need paved.”
Simpson said Haslam has said adding 7 cents to the gas tax will be “revenue neutral” because plans are to reduce half a cent on grocery sales and add $5 on a registration fee for tags.
The state gasoline tax is currently 21.4 cents per gallon, and each penny is worth about $32.9 million per year.
“I mean I know the city’s in the same shape the county is that we need more revenue,” Simpson said. “We’re in the neighborhood of $1 million a year to try to stay afloat on paving the roads in Loudon County and this gives that opportunity.”
The tax revenue brought in more than $657 million in Tennessee for fiscal year 2016.
“I think that it’s important for us to show support to our elected representation with the state of Tennessee in times that they do something to try to improve the economy’s local infrastructure,” City Administrator Amber Scott said.
In other news, Lenoir City Council:
  1. Passed the second and final reading for designating a handicapped parking spot in front of 309 E. First Ave.
  2. Amended the city’s retirement income plan for employees.
  3. Authorized Lenoir City Police Department to purchase vehicles utilizing the state bid process and outfitting the purchased vehicles.
  4. Approved spending $1,139.85 for three portable partitions for The Venue.
  5. Replaced a golf cart motor for use at Lenoir City Park. Three quotes came in, with the low bid from AACO Golf Carts at $1,399.99.
  6. Opened an account at SouthEast Bank.