‘You Pay, You Say’ voter initiative gains momentum

A citizen-initiated petition to establish limits on taxation levied by the city of Knoxville is gaining momentum. The ‘You Pay, You Say’ campaign has already collected over 1,283 signatures and tens of thousands of city registered voters will receive the petition in the mail so they can sign, fill out, and mail back to the Knox Liberty Organization (PO Box 462, Knoxville, TN 37901) before July 26, 2021.

This ordinance-by-voter-petition, drafted by Knoxville attorney Andy Fox, must receive at least 7,427 signatures from registered voters within the city limits of Knoxville. The petition campaign’s goal is to collect 14,854 signatures to overcome any challenge to the legally required minimum signatures. The campaign will turn in all the petition signatures together on July 30, 2021.

When the Knox County Election Commission certifies that at least 7,427 city registered voters have signed the petition, the ordinance must be adopted by the Knoxville City Council as-is or considered by the voters of the City of Knoxville on the November 2nd, 2021 general election ballot.

“This charter provision allowing the introduction of an ordinance by citizen petition has been a part of the Knoxville Charter since 1923,” said attorney Andy Fox. “During the Ashe and Haslam administrations, changes were made three times to the citizen-initiated ordinance process. Each time, the City of Knoxville acknowledged this citizen petition mechanism as lawful under the Home Rule provision of the Tennessee Constitution, found in Article XI, Section 9. Not every city provides this type of empowerment to the people. I am grateful that Knoxville’s Charter goes the extra mile to make citizens part of the governance process.”

Once adopted by either the city council or by the voters through referendum, the ordinance can only be changed through voter approval in the future before the current property tax rate could be increased above today’s level.

“The petition is to empower city of Knoxville residents to have the final say on future tax rate increases,” said Erik Wiatr, Chair of Knox Liberty Organization. “It is a check on the current city council majority that has been recklessly spending money, promising to spend even more, and depleting the city taxpayers’ cash savings.”

The petition campaign has been collecting signatures at the door, events, meetings, through the mail, and from city residents who are downloading and printing the petition and instructions from knoxvilletaxcap.com.

Individuals interested in learning more about this petition drive or to help collect more signatures can visit knoxvilletaxcap.com, email knoxlibertyorg@gmail.com, or call Erik Wiatr at 865-659-6656.