A judge on Friday tossed out the results of a Lebanon Special School District board race in August that was decided by one vote, reports The Tennessean. Johnie Payton defeated incumbent Steve Jones 1,468-1,467 on Aug. 2 to win the seat on the three-member board.
Chancellor C.K. Smith voided that result and ordered the race added to the November ballot after Jones filed a lawsuit alleging not everyone eligible to vote in the board election had the race listed on their ballot.
“I had two or three people tell me they tried to vote and they couldn’t,” Jones said. “There could have been an easy mistake. We’ll see what happens in November.”
…Jones said the two are friends. Jones has been on the school board for 24 years. Payton is a retired Lebanon Special School District teacher.
“The chancellor felt honest mistakes could have been made, and this was the fair and right thing to do, but that there was no evidence of wrongdoing or fraud,” said Wilson County attorney Mike Jennings.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With Amazon and Tennessee in agreement over the collection of sales taxes, the online retailer on Thursday finalized its plans to open two new distribution centers in Murfreesboro and Lebanon that are expected to create 1,300 new jobs.
Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. earlier this year agreed to a deal to expand its presence in the state, with the requirement that Amazon would start collecting Tennessee sales taxes in 2014. The retailer already has facilities in Hamilton, Bradley and Wilson counties.
Amazon says the new distribution centers will employ about 1,300 people when they are completed next fall, bringing the online retailer’s total workforce at its five Tennessee facilities to more than 3,300.
The State Funding Board last week approved $7 million in grants to make infrastructure improvements at the sites in Murfreesboro and Lebanon. Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said in a memo that Amazon’s investment in the two sites totals $145 million.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and Amazon officials in October announced the agreement for the company to begin collecting the state’s sales tax on items sold to customers in Tennessee.
Amazon was originally granted an indefinite waiver on collecting state sales taxes as part of a deal struck by Haslam’s Democratic predecessor, Phil Bredesen, that led the company to build its first two distribution centers in Tennessee earlier this year.
Haslam has said he will introduce legislation next year to solidify the tax deal, in keeping with a state attorney general’s opinion that the executive branch can’t unilaterally waive tax collection requirements.
Conventional retailers who must collect sales tax at their Tennessee stores have criticized the deal for not requiring Amazon to do the same sooner, giving the online retailer an unfair price advantage.
Amazon also announced it will donate $20,000 to the Books from Birth Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides books to preschool children in Tennessee. Note: News release is below
Upping the stakes and adding drama to the Amazon.com tax-collection dilemma in Tennessee, the company announced plans Thursday for a 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Lebanon, Mike Morrow reports. The company said the facility will create hundreds of full-time jobs and that it plans to open the site this fall.
…. When asked Thursday afternoon for comment about Amazon, Yvette Martinez, a spokeswoman for the governor, replied by e-mail, “Hundreds of jobs for Middle Tennessee is great news.”
Rep. Linda Elam, R-Mt. Juliet, said the deal was a “wonderful” coup for Lebanon, but she said she did not know specifics about the sales tax arrangement.
“I would imagine it’s all under the same framework they agreed to previously,” Elam said. “I wasn’t involved in those talks.
“There are two ways to look at that. Are they all covered under the same deal, or do they have to be treated as they would have absent that agreement with the prior governor? On the other hand, you look at it and say because of that agreement with the prior governor they’re bringing thousands of jobs to three locations in Tennessee.”
Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, chairman of the House Finance Ways and Means Committee, the House sponsor of the legislation calling for Amazon to collect from customers, said Thursday he had been unaware that the announcement about Lebanon was coming.
“I’m glad to see companies want to locate here in Tennessee,” Sargent said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for people in Tennessee, anywhere in the state.”
When asked if he still planned to pursue efforts to force the company to collect the sales tax, Sargent reiterated his previous position.
“I’m going to get with the governor, Speaker (Beth) Harwell, Leader (Gerald) McCormick and see how they want to proceed on the bill, if they want to proceed, and where we’re going to head on that,” Sargent said.
“I don’t know what the incentive was to bring them to Wilson County, nor do I know what contract was signed on getting them there.”