Sales Tax Increase Passes by 2-to-1 Margin in Low Turnout Williamson County Election

A referendum to increase county sales taxes in Williamson County from 2.25 percent to 2.77 percent passed by a 2-to-1 margin in a low turnout election held in the dead of winter on Tuesday.

“Out of the 12,365 ballots cast, 66.1 percent (or just over 8,000 voters) voted for the increase, while 33.9 percent (just over 4,000) voted against the referendum,” WSMV reported after the polls closed Tuesday and all the votes were counted.

“This is an extremely low turnout so far,” Williamson County Administrator of Elections Chad Gray told WSMV before the polls closed on Tuesday.

After all the votes were count, Gray’s initial comments were confirmed–only about 9 percent of the county’s registered voters ended up casting their ballots. About 6,000 participated in early voting between January 17 and February 1, and a little over 6,000 voted on the actual election day, Tuesday.

Supporters of the county sales tax increase said the additional funds were needed to pay for new public schools in the Williamson County School system.

Opponents decried the increase as insufficient for the claimed purpose, and the wrong mechanism for financing new school construction.

But the supporters were well funded and politically clever to schedule the referendum as the sole issue on a wintry day everyone knew would be a low turnout day, as The Tennessee Star reported on the eve of the election:

Williamson County Director of Schools Mike Looney signed a letter sent to Williamson County voters by Citizens for School Funding, a political action committee supporting the proposed sales tax increase on the ballot in the county today its supporters say is necessary to fund increased construction of Williamson County Public Schools. . .

In the letter, which is clearly intended to support the sales tax increase, Looney advances the fiction that he is not taking a position on today’s vote . . .

Presumably, both Dr. Looney and Citizens for School Funding have run this mailing by their attorneys and have received the green light indicating that Looney’s language “threads the needle” sufficiently so as not to be in violation of either election law or his employment contract.

In the end, the supporters of the county sales tax increase prevailed easily on Tuesday.

Opponents now warn that new pitches for additional school funding are soon on the way.


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5 Thoughts to “Sales Tax Increase Passes by 2-to-1 Margin in Low Turnout Williamson County Election”

  1. Tom

    All of the high income immigrants from CA, OR and WA are turning TN in to the sh*thole they left on the west coast.

  2. Tom

    All of the high income immigrants from CA, OR and WA think 9.77% sales tax is cheap. It is so easy to manage the schools and the county with taxes ever increasing. Have you ever heard of a cost cutting program in Williamson County? Me, neither

  3. Kevin

    How pathetic! We are already defeated and the republic lost when people fail to exercise their voting rights! Maybe this tax increase won’t “hurt”, but at some point it will! It’s like traing a puppy. If you don’t correct those little nips, they turn into a biting problem and the next thing you know, you’re in court losing your house.

    Just once I’d like to hear a government truly say, “we can do with less!”

  4. Papa

    Any time there is a choice of a ‘sales tax’ increase or a ‘property tax’, the sales tax is the most fair. With sales tax every one pays equal including visitors, shoppers, renters and tourists while a property tax is saddled on just the residents and the elderly residents are unfairly burdened with taxes for services they never use.

  5. Time will show this additional tax revenue will not be enough to cover the costs intended. it is almost certain property taxes will need to be raised to make up the difference. And – that sales tax increase will never go away – it never does. So it will be a double-whammy. This sales tax increase was a terrible idea. And those who think they want a separate school district will soon learn what a bad idea that is, too. Proponents moved here for lower taxes, and a move to leave the county system will raise property taxes to levels many previously saw in places like NY, CA, etc. Be very careful what you wish for. You may actually get it.