Unicoi board signs pledge to never have property tax

Brad Hicks • Sep 18, 2012 at 10:35 PM

UNICOI — Officials in the town of Unicoi are proud that the town’s growth, financial standing and availability of services offered to its citizens have been accomplished without the need for a property tax. And town officials have pledged to keep it that way.

At Monday’s regular meeting of the Town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen, members of the board, including Mayor Johnny Lynch, signed a resolution to pledge that they will not entertain the prospect of a property tax while in office.

Lynch said Tuesday that he hopes the resolution will quash any rumors that the town may have been leaning in the direction of implementing a property tax. He said over the past eight years, the town more than doubled its assets has significantly increased its fund balance.

“We’re in good financial shape,” Lynch said. “...We don’t need a property tax, so we’re not going to do one.”

Lynch said officials are proud that the services the town has in place, such as its contract with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department to station officers there, the creation of and improvement to parks and recreational areas, support to the local volunteer fire department, and prior installation of a sewer system, have been completed or continue to be funded without a property tax.

Officials are also constantly looking for ways to grow business in Unicoi, Lynch said. The town’s services are funded through a combination of local sales tax and state shared taxes. Lynch said this method has worked over the town’s 17-year history and continues to do so.

“It’s our goal to create as much retail business in the town as we can,” Lynch said.

Still, Lynch said some services, such as residential garbage pick up, cannot be offered without a property tax.

Town of Unicoi aldermen signed a similar pledge four years ago. Aldermen Michael Phillips, who did not serve of the board at that time, said he ran on a “no property tax” platform when he sought a seat on the board two years ago.

“There no way I would be in favor of a property tax, and none of the others were either,” Phillips said.

Like Lynch, Phillips said officials take pride in being able to maintain a fund balance and experience growth without a property tax Phillips said the town has money in the bank and is one of the few municipalities in the area not currently faced with imposing a tax increase.

“If anything, we’re further apart now from needing a property tax with the sales tax and growth,” Phillips said.

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