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[February 26, 2013]
County votes to fund proposed Expo Center study
Feb 26, 2013 (The Lebanon Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Wilson County commissioners put the brakes Monday on the plan for a hotel and motel tax increase to finance the proposed Expo Center at the Ward Agricultural Center.
Wilson Mayor Randall Hutto expressed support for the center but acknowledged many still have questions.
"From my seat, the only way to lighten the burden on property owners is to increase sales tax revenues," he said, adding he spoke to another county mayor who said the creation of an expo center there was a success.
That said, Hutto suggested the commission "put this off right now for more study." "I'll do everything I can to give you everything you need to make a decision," he said.
The notion was put on hold until commissioners could ask questions and study the proposal in more detail.
Commissioner Jeff Joines, a supporter of the Expo Center, requestedthe commission fund a feasibility study about the project to determine the impact it might have on the county.
Hutto agreed the commission needed more "concrete numbers on this." The commission voted to spend $15,000 from a capital projects fund to pay for the study.
Wilson County will get a bit larger since the commission voted to expand the Wilson County border to include 17 residential properties in the Hickory Hills subdivision. The Davidson County properties in question are "landlocked" by Wilson County, so Davidson County officials and the state approached Wilson officials about incorporating them into Wilson.
With little discussion, the commission voted to approve added the properties to Wilson County. The measure will now go before the state legislature for final approval.
Wilson County Administrator of Elections Philip Warren addressed the commission about the proposal to approve voting centers.
"Our job is to ensure the integrity of every vote," he said. "Voter centers offer sustainable tax savings and more convenience for voters. Centers would allow Wilson County voters to vote anywhere in the county. There would be no wrong place to vote in Wilson County." Warren estimated a minimum savings of $20,000 per year. He said there are 15 such centers planned for the county, and the state will require one center per 10,000 voters.
"Ours will have one center per 5,000 voters," he said. "That way we can grow without changing the number of voting centers." He added the state legislature is considering legislation to allow voting centers, "and we want to be a part of it." He asked the commission to vote to approve the measure when it comes before it in March.
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