Cities say they are open to sales tax discussions for schools


Cities say they are open to sales tax discussions for schools

By CLIFF HIGHTOWER

The three largest cities in Williamson County are open to the possibility of hearing what the county has to say about a sales tax increase, city officials said Wednesday.

“I know this is kicking around some in the county,” Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said.

The county’s Tax Study Committee voted 2-1 last week to move the idea of a half-cent sales tax hike to the County Commission for a vote. The county is trying to find ways to help fund debt as more schools are renovated or built.

Right now, the Williamson County Department of Education has almost $150 million in projects backlogged and the county is trying to find more ways to fund these projects.

County Mayor Rogers Anderson said last week he planned to speak with leaders of the county’s municipalities to see if they would be open to giving up their portion of the sales tax hike to help fund these projects.

Brentwood and Franklin city officials said they have had informal discussions with Anderson, but Spring Hill officials said they have not heard from him yet.

“He spoke with us informally,” Brentwood City Manager Kirk Bednar said.

Bednar said the city has not received any formal request for giving up the portion of the sales tax, if it were to pass.

“I think it’s something we’re open to discuss,” he said.

The steps for a sales tax hike would be first to be approved by the County Commission, which could come as soon as next month’s meeting. If the county approves, a countywide referendum would then take place, which would possibly happen in the fall.

Anderson has said before those steps take place, he would like to hear some amount of reassurances that the large cities are open to the possibility of giving up their share.

Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham said he thought the city would “definitely entertain it.”

“I feel Spring Hill would be pretty open to it,” he said. “There are some schools planned on the Williamson (County) side.”

Though more of the population is in Williamson County, Spring Hill straddles the county line and also is served by Maury County Schools.

Stuckey said he felt Franklin would need to take a look at the specific proposal presented. Until then, the door is open for discussion, he said.

“We don’t have anything to close the door on,” Stuckey said.

Cliff Hightower can be reached at cliff.hightower@homepagemediagroup.com or follow him on Twitter @CliffHightower.

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