Erwin property tax hike closer to reality

Brad Hicks • Aug 13, 2013 at 9:25 AM

ERWIN — The town of Erwin’s property tax rate has held steady for more than a decade, but according to Erwin Town Recorder Randy Trivette, the costs associated with operating the town have continued to rise.

This, coupled with a reduction in the assessed value of property within the town of Erwin, has led town officials to look at raising the town’s property tax rate for the first time since 2001.

At Monday’s regular meeting of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen, aldermen present unanimously approved the first reading of the town’s budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year and fixing of the town’s property tax rate for the new fiscal year. The proposed tax rate for 2013-14 currently stands at $1.0796 per $100 on real estate and personal property, which represents a 15-cent increase over the town’s 2012-13 property tax rate.

A penny on the town’s property tax rate equates to approximately $13,000.

Trivette said the increase is not based on ongoing capital projects, such as the downtown revitalization project, but is based on operational expenditures. He said the costs of electricity, materials, gasoline and employee salaries and benefits have continued to climb over the years.

The town is currently projecting $7,011,400 in revenues, and the balanced budget reflects the same amount in expenditures. Projected revenues include $1.5 million from a capital outlay note to pay for the downtown revitalization project. This note was approved Monday by the board. Other one-time revenues projected for 2013-14 include $500,000 for repayment of a loan made by the town to Unicoi County Memorial Hospital last year, and a $750,000 contribution from Mountain States Health Alliance that will be made to the town once closing of UCMH’s sale to MSHA occurs.

Town officials are projecting $3,074,209 in tax revenues in 2013-14, more than $1.4 million of which would come from current property taxes. More than $550,000 in intergovernmental revenues are projected, with another $129,000 projected to come from state and federal grants.

On the expenditures side, the town is projecting around $30,000 in legislative expenditures, approximately $321,000 in central staff agencies costs, more than $1,073,000 in other governmental expenses, $1,027,334 for the Erwin Police Department, $661,525 for the Erwin Fire Department and $734,582 for the town’s street department.

Other projected expenditures include around $257,000 for parks and recreation, $174,000 for welfare and social services organizations and $178,000 for sanitation.

The town has also budgeted $69,140 for animal control, which includes $11,635 to be contributed to the Unicoi County Animal Welfare Board. This is half of the amount sought by the animal welfare board from the town for the 2013-14 fiscal year, and town officials are currently working to resolve the Unicoi County Animal Shelter funding issue. If a resolution is reached by Jan. 1, the other half of this contribution will be provided by the town.

The town’s budget would take effect upon approval of its second and final reading, which the Board of Mayor and Aldermen will look to consider Aug. 26. Before then, changes to the proposed budget may be made. The board will meet with area welfare and social services organizations Aug. 20 in a work session to discuss some of these organizations’ funding requests.

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