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Animal tax tops commission agenda

Xavier Smith • Feb 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Wilson County Commissioner Joy Bishop will lead another push to reinstate the former $2 domestic animal tax during this month’s Wilson County Commission meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the Wilson County Courthouse.

“This is just to stop the stalling. I’ve tried going through committees but they’ve been canceled and so this is just to get the ball rolling,” Bishop said.

According to the resolution, passage would express the commission’s “intent for support of the collection of the $2 domestic animal tax to be re-instated at a future date after the collection procedures and areas need to be strengthened are fully identified and presented to the county commission for approval.”

The resolution sets a target date for March 20.

“This is just a resolution of intent and hopefully we can get something going,” Bishop said.

Bishop’s last attempt to reinstate the tax ended in 2015 after it did not get approval from the Animal Control Committee after the full commission voted to send back through committee.

That push to have the commission revisit the issue came on the heels of the release of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s opinion on the issue.

Slatery’s opinion stated the Wilson County Commission had the right in 2013 to stop a $2 domestic annual fee originally approved by voters in 1980.

The money, collected through the cost of pet vaccinations, went to New Leash on Life, which was then the county’s de facto animal control agency until the county started its own animal control department in 2003.

The opinion also stated the commission has the authority to re-impose the tax in the future, which Bishop hoped would take place.

However, the main argument against the re-instatement of the tax focused on the fact the allocated funds from the countywide pet ownership tax would go toward one organization –New Leash on Life.

Others issues surrounded the collection and redistribution of the tax dollars and a mechanism to hold pet owners and veterinarians responsible.

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