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City to hold sales tax referendum

By Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Mar 4, 2014 at 11:36 PM

Lebanon voters will have the chance to decide whether to increase the city’s local option sales tax rate this year.

Lebanon City Council voted to seek a referendum asking for an increase from the city’s current rate of 2.25 percent to 2.75 percent, the maximum allowed by the state.

State law allows municipalities to set location option sales tax rates up to 2.75 percent on the first $1,600 of any single piece of personal property.

Councilors during their Feb. 18 meeting narrowly passed the measure on its first reading, with Lanny Jewell, Fred Burton and Kathy Warmath voting no and Joe Hayes, Tick Bryan and Mayor Philip Craighead voting yes.

On its second reading Tuesday, however, councilors passed it unanimously.

“The main idea of this is if we increase the half-cent sales tax, then we’re looking at probably about a 30 percent reduction in our city of Lebanon property tax, which should equal around 18 cents,” said Mayor Philip Craighead.

Warmath, who voted against the measure on its first reading, said before the final vote that this measure simply allows voters to decide what’s right for them and their individual circumstances.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, councilors approved a resolution to “establish the city’s legislative positions and priorities” regarding the proposed sales tax increase.

In effect, the resolution, “resolves to support” a property tax decrease of up to 30 percent if citizens approve the sales tax increase in a referendum.

In other business, council approved the following items:

• Selection of a city council member to serve on the Joint Economic & Community Development Board;

• A line item transfer for the sanitation department for overtime;

• A resolution supporting the Tennessee Department of Transportation Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant application to convert sanitation vehicles from diesel to compressed natural gas;

• Hiring a part-time dispatcher for the police department;

• A resolution supporting the MetLife Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation 2014 Community-Police Partnership grant application for gang prevention;

• Bids for one storage building for Don Fox Park;

• Bids for the T-Hangar Row E project at Lebanon Municipal Airport;

• Bids for propane and electric heaters for the water plant;

• Changing city code to exempt the central business zoning district from the local fire sprinkler requirement, but not the Adopted International Fire Code and the Adopted International Building Code;

• Bids for one compressed natural gas refuse truck for the sanitation department;

• Establishing the city’s right to provide utilities to annexed areas.

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