Early voting is now over but I know that there are many people that have yet to vote. With election day approaching on March 1st, I wanted to touch on one issue that is on the ballot, whether or not to approve the wheel tax. The wheel tax is being proposed as a way to fund the construction of a new jail and a new Cascade school. Many claim that this is the fairest tax because it would affect those that rent and that they do not pay any property tax but they do pay the property tax indirectly through the rent that they pay because landlords factor in the cost of the property tax when they set the amount of the rent. Also consider this, everyone in this county lives on a piece of property that is being taxed but everyone in this county does not own a vehicle!
People in favor of the wheel tax also should be aware that the county commissioners have all but promised that regardless if the wheel tax passes or not that property taxes will still increase. Yes, if the wheel tax passes, property taxes will not increase as much as they would without the wheel tax but they will increase.
So if the wheel tax doesn't pass it is said that the tax rate would have to increase $0.33. The current tax rate is $2.27 per $100 assessed value. With an increase of $0.33 that would bring the new rate to $2.60 per $100 assessed value. The median home value in Bedford County is right around $115,000. The current property tax for a house of that value is $653. At the proposed increased rate, the property tax would be $748, which is a $95.00 increase. So if you live in a median price home and have two vehicles, you would actually come out cheaper by having the property tax increase than pay the $50 per vehicle wheel tax, plus a property tax increase.
Remember this when you go to vote, new taxes are sold to the people as being needed to pay for something, but they never go away, they only increase. The wheel tax is being sold to help pay for a school and a jail. What is now known as the income tax was originally implemented in 1861 by Abraham Lincoln to help pay for the Civil War. It imposed a 3% tax on incomes over $800. Now 155 years later it is still in place!