County Commission Keeps Same Tax Rate Rather Than Going To Slightly Higher "Certified Tax Rate"

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

County Commission members on Wednesday morning balked at moving to a slightly higher "certified tax rate" and instead left the property tax rate at the same $2.7652 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The commissioners unanimously rejected a prepared resolution that would have upped the rate to $2.7721 per $100 of assessed valuation.

Finance Director Louis Wright said the move means about $235,000 less for county government and $235,000 less for the county schools than had been projected.

Commissioners Joe Graham and Tim Boyd berated the county administration for not following the usual process of having a "continuation budget" until the figures are all in. They said the administration should not have assumed that the commission would be moving to the certified figure.

 Commissioner Graham said the commissioners earlier had to vote without having the full budget documents.

Mr. Wright said the money to cover the $235,000 in budget items would be from the fund balance.

However, Commissioner Graham said there was another option - to cut some of the items that had already been approved.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger was absent. Mike Compton, chief of staff, said they would confer and have a later recommendation.

Commissioner Fred Skillern said he was not in favor of pulling any more money out of the fund balance (rainy day fund).

Assessor Bill Bennett said it was the first time in his long history with the county that overall property values were down slightly. He said usually in the past the commission had to lower the "certified tax rate" 40-50 cents in order not to get a windfall from the reappraisal.

Commissioner Skillern said there was still about $2.5 million in "growth money" for the county. He said by the commission's action, that was cut to about $2 million.

The city of Chattanooga did the same thing - keeping the same tax rate and foregoing the post-reappraisal higher recommended certified tax rate. 


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