Commissioners to Vote 8-cent Property Tax Hike Aug. 4th
Voters to decide $50 Wheel Tax on August 7
By: Pat Hunter
Commissioners are scheduled to meet at 6:00 P.M. on Monday August 4th at the Annex in Loudon. At that time, Commissioners will consider voting to set the property tax rate from $1.84 to $1.92. If approved this makes the second property tax increase in three years. Much higher property taxes are promised next year coincidently, a re-appraisal year of our properties.
At the Monday July 7th Budget Committee meeting, budget members spoke about meeting fifteen (15 minutes) before the Commission meeting on Aug. 4th at about 5:45 P.M. to discuss and possibly voting on some loose ends. The Budget Committee will consider taking action to amend the Street Superintendent's big fat $10,000 pay supplement, perhaps adjusting the Mayor's pay, which was calculated incorrectly and also to possibly reduce commissioners own 10 percent yearly pay increase. Time will tell if they will follow through or just blow more hot smoke.
At a recent May 14th Finance 101 meeting, Commissioner Don Miller shared some information about the 2005 property tax rate increase, which was passed in an re-appraisal year, too. The county property tax went from $1.52 to $1.84, or a twenty-one percent (21%) increase.
Click Commissioner Miller commented how Commission had received some bad information on revenues from the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS). The County's Fund Balance was greatly underestimated, Miller commented. Property tax rates were set higher than needed.
Back when this happened, commissioners were in a frenzy making public comments about how the County was almost broke fanning the fire for higher property taxes. This was much like the Chicken Little story when Chicken Little thought that the sky was falling, when in fact it wasn't.
Former 5th District Commissioner Van Shaver mentioned many times that the Fund Balance was in good condition since his information was based on monthly financial reports from the Trustee's office. Shaver predicted a healthy Fund Balance dismissing the claims for higher property taxes but other commissioners like Don Miller and Bob Franke scoffed at Shaver and managed to convince the other commissioners to increase property taxes. The hefty property tax increase, in turn, generated a healthy Fund Balance in subsequent years. Commissioners finally realized that Shaver was correct but this information was not readily admitted in public until recently when Commissioner Don Miller admitted this information at the Finance 101 meeting with School personnel.
Instead of reducing property taxes, Commissioners did just the opposite and started a big spending spree while complaining about School spending. At the recent Finance 101 meeting, Commissioner Miller was confronted by former school business manager Cindy Cornelius about Commission's excessive spending leaving Miller speechless at times with her facts and figures.
In 2005, Commissioners voted to give 21 cents to the Schools for their School Operating Budget and placed 10 cents in the Rural Fund Debt for schools. Then Commissioners turned around and took away 7 cents from the School Operating Budget in FY 06-07.
Commission is now sitting with over a $5 Million Fund Balance on the County side, but they now propose a 8 cent property tax increase on August 4th and a $50 wheel tax per vehicle to be determined by the voters on August 7th. The Schools also have a Fund Balance of over $2 Million but the School Board is drawing down from this amount to cover expenditures, such as text books.
Commissioners could easily afford to give the Schools more money without a property tax increase, if only they would!
While individuals, single household family's, young couples and retirees try to cope with higher fuel costs at the pump and escalating food prices, it seems that county commissioners are indifferent about the economy or the public's plight as these same officials continue to make plans to tax and spend! Two proposed taxes in one recession year, is just too hard to fathom!