Gov. Haslam visits county to address IMPROVE Act

Published 9:44 pm Thursday, July 6, 2017

With all of the changes scattered throughout the recent piece of legislation passed by the State’s General Assembly, no other place in Carter County proved to be more fitting for Gov. Bill Haslam to visit.
The governor continued his statewide tour of promoting the recent IMPROVE Act, which went into effect July 1, by visiting Fletcher’s Store in the Stoney Creek community Thursday.
“We’re extremely grateful for the Governor taking time out of his busy schedule to visit our community,” Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey said following Haslam’s meet-and-greet. “It is important to get the word out about this important piece of legislation that will help address the transportation concerns in the state.
“There couldn’t be a better place for the governor to visit other than Sonny Fletcher’s store,” the mayor continued. “This business is such a focal point in the community and often is the scene for some lively debates about different issues. Nothing is ever perfect, but I believe the positives outweigh the negatives with the Act and this is a tax break for citizens of the state.”
Fletcher’s serves as the perfect example of what the IMPROVE Act brings to the table. The store sells gasoline, which will see a tax increase by six cents over the next three years. While there is a growth in gas tax, groceries will see a 20 percent tax decrease when citizens hit the stores.
“We’re lowering that from what it used to be at 5 percent of what you bought now down to four percent,” Haslam said. “Actually, before that, we actually lowered it from five-and-a-half percent down to five percent. While we’re in office, taxes would have gone down from five-and-a-half percent of what you buy down to four percent. Your summer barbecue just got a little bit cheaper.”
Haslam that other tax breaks are included in the Act for businesses, veterans, and senior citizens. With the breaks, the governor added that more prospective manufacturers are looking at the possibility of relocating to Tennessee citing a manufacturing recently choosing Rhea County as a new home for business.
Tennesseans will shoulder the increased tax on gasoline with other motorists from out of the state driving through, Haslam added.
“We never thought it was right to subside the roads for other people,” the governor said, adding that citizens will be able to save more money with the tax cut to groceries than what they will see at the pump.
Haslam added the Act is part of his office’s goal to keep Tennessee at the forefront of development and uncessary spending. He added that residents of the state are currently the least tax per individual compared to other states and that Tennessee is the least in debt, per individual, compared to others.
The importance of the plan is that property owners won’t see a tax hike, Humphrey said.
“We’re not in favor of a tax increase, but this allows the state to address an issue that hasn’t been really discussed since 1989,” he added. “The best thing about the Act is that it doesn’t raise the tax rate for property owners. Carter County has one of the highest property tax rates in the state, and there’s no way we could ask property owners to shoulder the burden of another raise. This Act will be beneficial for the county.”
Over the next 15-20 years, over $62 million worth of renovations to roads and bridges across the county. Humphrey added that $500,000 would be pumped into the county each year moving forward to address local roads.
The biggest project citizens will see shortly will be in 2018 as an extensive construction project for Elk Avenue. During a recent town hall meeting in Erwin, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials said the project would begin at Grindstaff and reach to Food City.
The Governor’s Office website,, features a breakdown of the Act.

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