Early voting has already begun on a very important issue, funding our schools. Most people think of the March 3, 2020 vote as a vote for their presidential election candidate. However, there is another vote on the ballot that requires your attention.
What will voting ‘yes’ on the Maury County sales tax referendum do? It will increase the current sales tax rate by half a penny. The local option will increase from 2.25% to 2.75%, which is 50 cents per $100 spent in Maury County. The plan is to generate $3.6 million in new annual revenue for schools. Specifically, the revenues will go towards the renovation and expansion of existing schools, provide an environment for administration, teachers and students that sets them up for success and it will aid in the construction of new schools necessary to meet the population growth.
Why is funding our schools important? A successful school system is a key economic driver for any community. Think to yourself, why did you move here or choose to stay here? Even if you do not have school-aged children, I guarantee you researched the strength of the school system. Why is that? Because strong local schools equal a strong local economy. A community that prioritizes its school system is a community that understands the broader impact. The overall economic health of a community is directly related to the skills of its workforce. Our schools are preparing the workforce of tomorrow. Will our community prioritize the success of our schools?
Why a sales tax increase? Capturing additional revenues from outside the county is the preference of any municipality. According to data from the 2018 Economic Impact of travel on Tennessee Counties Report, $7,855.76 is already created daily in local tax revenues from tourists visiting Maury County. The opportunity to capitalize on these revenues is ideal for lessening the tax burden on our own residents. The alternative to increasing the sales tax is to increase the county property taxes so that the needs of the schools can still be met. When polling our membership on their preference, 60% preferred a sales tax increase over a property tax increase. This vote isn’t a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ it is an ‘either’ ‘or’ vote, the revenues must come from somewhere.
Why would the local business community be in favor of a sales tax increase for schools? We shop here and we value our customers, so realistically this vote could affect the bottom line of many of our members. Will we notice? Most likely not. Plus, we believe in our schools and we don’t think we are alone. As community leaders we promote our local school system daily to current and potential businesses and residents. Our population continues to thrive, and our businesses continue to prosper exponentially. Our schools are a large contributor to that success. We want to our schools to be given the opportunity to put Maury County even more ahead of the competition for future business and employees.
What would voting ‘no’ on the Maury County sales tax referendum do? It would send a clear message about our priorities to our children, our teachers, our administrators and our county officials. Our schools would continue to be underfunded, our property taxes would be at risk of increasing, our property values would be potentially be at risk and we would abandon the opportunity of capitalizing on tourism revenue. It would also show that our vision is limited to the present instead of the future.
I’d encourage you to learn more about the Maury County Sales tax referendum by visiting www.voteforschools.us. Voting information can be accessed by visiting the Maury County Election Commission at www.maurycounty-tn.gov/227/Election-Commission. Please be an active part of the solution by casting your vote. The future of our children and our community depends on it.
- Rebecca Melton, Executive Director, Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce