Where Do My County Tax Dollars Go?
There is a large push locally and throughout the state to shop local this Christmas. Aside from supporting local business owners, did you know when you shop locally here in Wilson County you are supporting a variety of other services that are available to every Wilson County resident throughout the year as well? By simply living in Wilson County and contributing to our economy, you play a significant role in every service Wilson County Government is able to provide individuals from all backgrounds and income levels. With the push to shop locally many people begin to ask the question “What do I receive for my county tax dollars?” Citizens seem to easily notice the benefits of city taxes; however, many people have a hard time determining where county taxes are applied. Because of this, we thought it would be a good idea to give the citizens of Wilson County a little more information on how county tax dollars are used.
First and foremost, your tax dollars go to support education in Wilson County. Your tax dollars support schools throughout the county through the Wilson County School System as well as the Lebanon Special School District. Though the Lebanon Special School District collects revenue through an extra tax placed on those that live inside their district, they also receive a portion of funding through county property tax and sales tax revenue (The same taxes that go to support the Wilson County School System). The property tax and sales tax revenue pays for the operation of schools, teacher pay, and other expenses but also goes towards the construction of new schools as the county continues to grow. To date, around 93% of the total indebtedness of Wilson County goes to schools alone.
Secondly, your tax dollars go to support all aspects of public safety. Wilson Emergency Management Agency (WEMA) is funded by county tax dollars. The WEMA organization provides ambulance services, water rescue, disaster rescue, EMA planning, as well as public assistance and rescue. Fire related services are handled on the city level and through volunteer fire stations. Fire services for WEMA are funded by state shared revenues. Your tax dollars also go to support the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department works to prevent and investigate crimes on persons and property. The Sheriff’s Department also serves civil and criminal warrants and patrols county as well as state roadways. The Sheriff’s Department also supplies every Wilson County school with a School Resource Officer to ensure student and teacher safety. In short, the Sheriff’s department works to keep the citizens of Wilson County safe. Another aspect of public safety that is funded by your tax dollars is our county jail. There are no city jails in Wilson County. We are extremely proud of all of our local law enforcement groups from the city to the county and commend the way they work together as a whole. We are also extremely proud of all of our WEMA personnel, city fire departments, and our volunteers.
In addition to education and public safety, your tax dollars also go to support the court systems in Wilson County. Our court systems include Chancery, Circuit, Criminal, Juvenile, and General Sessions courts. Your tax dollars support the Judges, clerks, and Judicial Commissioners. The Judicial Commissioners issue orders of protection, arrests, and search warrants. Tax dollars also support the elected Circuit Court Clerk and the appointed Clerk and Master.
There are many offices throughout the county that provide services funded by your tax dollars. Probate court handles estates that are being probated. The County Clerk’s office offers a variety of services such as vehicle registration (tags and titles), passports, marriage licenses, notary publics, and business licenses to name a few. The Register of Deed’s office records property deeds and the Trustee’s office collects taxes from residents all over the county in various areas. The Election Commission allows citizens to vote in county, state, and federal elections and also assists with city elections as well.
Other county services funded by county taxes include the following: the Property Assessor’s office which provides property assessments for our cities as well as the county, Wilson County Archives which keeps and maintains historical and permanent records related to the county; and the Veterans Services Officer who works to assist our veterans. The Wilson County Road Commission is also funded through tax dollars. The road commission is responsible for maintaining the roads throughout the county.
The Solid Waste Department allows us the use of the landfill and is operated by tipping fees rather than property taxes, but the convenient centers, placed at various locations across the county, are funded by property tax dollars. Your tax dollars also fund some of the expenses associated with the Health Department including salaries and maintenance of the facility. Your tax dollars also go to support the Medical Examiner’s office.
The libraries are funded on a two-thirds basis provided by the county, whereas all three cities split the remaining 1/3 of their respective facilities budgets, which would be the operational cost. The county fully funds the construction of the library buildings and any overall raises given to employees. Of course, the libraries do a great job managing their systems and fundraising on their own. In addition to providing all of these services, there are also contributions made to the chambers of commerce, local non-profits, senior citizens, ball parks, sports organizations and recreational facilities.
At one time, we had used your tax dollars to fund the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, which is really what you might call the county’s park, by way of property tax. We have now made the change to fund that department with hotel/motel tax which would conclude that they would be encouraged to have events that would put more “heads in beds” to help them maintain their budgets. Hotel/motel tax is also used to support Tourism. We hope in the future to use hotel/ motel tax to fund Health and Welfare, as well as Recreational budgets.
This is a list of services and agencies that your tax dollars support and is not inclusive, of course. However, I do hope that it gives you some overall view of how your tax dollars are used. The commissioners have a hard job to determine the best use of our resources, but I do believe the County Commission has always done a great job of getting the most out of each tax dollar brought into Wilson County Government.
Wilson County is in a great position, and we are using the most of every resource available. However, there is a continuous strain on our existing revenue to cover the rapid growth happening throughout the county. Other counties in similar situations are constantly looking for ways to pay for growth, because unfortunately it rarely pays for itself. We know that the citizens of Wilson County are some of the best in the state of Tennessee and expect the best not only in the way of services, but in the way those services are carried out. The County Commission, myself, along with all of our elected officials and appointed department heads will continue to do our best to serve the citizens of Wilson County. This Christmas, remember to shop small and support Wilson County as a whole. We hope this information is both helpful and encouraging.