By BROOKE WANSER
Williamson County officials and citizens discussed a proposed sales tax increase at a round-table meeting on Friday morning.
The need for greater funding to continue improving local schools for the county’s 220,000 residents was framed within the perennial discussion of growth.
“A community is either growing and prospering or it’s diminishing and dying,” said Dr. Mike Looney, the superintendent of Williamson County Schools.
Adding 30 classrooms to the Page Middle School campus and expanding the running track and athletic facilities at Franklin High School were among a few of the school improvements Looney mentioned during the hour-long meeting.
“As you know, Franklin High School is one of only two schools in the county that cannot hold a track and field meet because there’s only 6 lanes there,” he said.
Williamson County Mayor Roger Anderson said other measures to raise money, including a proposal to raise the wheel tax was “not palatable,” since many families in the county have 2-3 cars.
A property tax measure on new properties has also been discussed, but, according to Anderson, “is going to take time” due to legal hurdles.
“So it looks like sales tax is the only option,” said Dave Crouch, the moderator and a member of Williamson Inc’s business advocacy committee.
The current sales tax in Williamson County is 2.25 percent, with state sales tax at 7 percent. Under the proposed referendum, county officials plan to increase the county sales tax by a half a percent, to 2.75 percent.
Anderson said the increase should raise approximately $20 million, which would be used towards school improvements.
“It’s strictly up to the voters,” Anderson ended. “I personally think it’s a better route than raising property taxes.”
Doris McMillan, a seamstress who has lived in Franklin for 27 years, said she supports the idea of a sales tax increase.
“If everyone gets on board, it makes sense,” she said, noting that her love of her community made her take interest in the future of Williamson County schools. “We have to look out for all our community, from the top to the bottom.”
Anderson said he hopes to bring the referendum before the county commission for a vote in the second week of October.