ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton City Council is preparing to do something on Thursday night that it hasn’t done in a generation — hold a public meeting to discuss the raising of the property tax rate.
It has been 19 years since the City Council last increased the property tax rate. On July 14, the council approved on first reading a property tax rate of $1.82 per $100 of assessed value. This amounted to a 25.12 cent increase over the recent state certified tax rate of $1.5681.
The council will vote on the increase for the second and final time after the public hearing, which is not only standard procedure before second readings of city ordinances but also mandated by the state in order to increase the certified rate following a countywide property reassessment.
While it is expected several citizens will take advantage of the public hearing to express opposition to the proposed increase, there will be others attending the meeting who are expected to support a big ticket item left off the budget this year: a $4 million football complex to be built near Elizabethton High School.
The proposed $1.82 property tax rate is a compromise that does not please everyone. Some, such as Mayor Curt Alexander’ had hoped for little or no increase. Others, such as Councilwoman Nancy Alsup, hoped for additional funds in order to give employees a pay raise.
Most of the increase, 22 cents, is going to fund what the city administrators call a “status quo” budget. The remaining three cents was proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Sam Shipley to begin to reverse the trend of the past several years of declining undesignated reserves to such a point there is only about $1.5 million left. The three additional cents would add $72,600 to the account this year.
The tax increase is just one of two other new or increased revenue sources to fund the 2011-12 city budget. The new fee is a $10 per month fee to all individual residences for garbage collection, which will set up a separate fund to make the city’s garbage collection service self funding.
The other fee increase is to the water capital improvement fund, which will be increased by $6, going from $4 to $10 on each month’s water bill. Part of the funds will go to establish and equip a new team dedicated to locating and repairing leaks to the city’s aging water system, which is losing more than half the water it treats.
The city’s proposed general fund budget for next year is $14,755, 060. The largest fund is the electric fund, with $53,459,626. The water and sewer fund is $9,490,438.
The council will meet Thursday at 6 p.m. at Elizabethton City Hall.