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Hawkins petition seeking wheel tax referendum falls 127 signatures short

In June the County Commission gave final approval to the $40 wheel tax increase that would generate about $2 million in 12 months and eliminate a $2 million revenue deficit in the 2017-18 budget. That decision also prevented the state from taking over the county’s budget. 

The $40 wheel tax increase sets the cost of tagging a vehicle in Hawkins County at $96 annually, making it the 10th-highest fee in the state.

Earlier this month, the Election Commission received 175 pages containing 2,231 signatures from people seeking a referendum election that could potentially void that wheel tax increase.

The petition 1,095 valid signatures, or 10 percent of the number of people in Hawkins County who voted in the last governor’s election

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After more than two weeks of checking signatures, Sharp released the results Sunday.

Of the 2,231 signatures submitted, only 968 were approved, leaving the petition 127 short.

Of the signatures that weren’t approved, 770 were non-registered. The other 493 disqualified signatures weren’t counted for a variety of reasons such as an unreadable signature, signatures didn’t match registration cards, wrong address, one person signing multiple names and one person signing multiple petition sheets.

County Clerk Nancy Davis told the Times-News on Sunday she doesn’t know exactly when the wheel tax increase can be implemented, but it definitely won’t be before the end of September. She will have to notify the state so that renewal forms can start reflecting the new fee, and she’ll also have to find out from her software vendor when the appropriate changes can be made on computers in her office.

“We want to give the public and everybody time to prepare to have to pay the extra,” Davis said.

Commissioner Stacy Vaughan, who chairs the commission’s Budget…

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