County Commissioners Are Required To Out Themselves On Increasing Taxes

Friday, June 16, 2017
If the county assessor has determined your property is more valuable than  it was four years ago (and County Commissioners vote to keep the millage rate the same), tax bills totaling a collective increase of $24 million will be delivered to mailboxes this fall. The millage rate is the amount used to determine how much tax will be paid after the rate is multiplied against the total assessed value of property. Those who personally write checks to pay tax bills will notice the increase when the bill arrives in October.
For those with mortgages, the tax bill will go to the mortgage company. Most homeowners with  mortgages will likely see their monthly mortgage payments increase in January to reflect the tax increase. 

This is a tax assessment re-evaluation year. It comes around every four years in Hamilton County. There must be a reason to determine a property value  increase. New construction on an empty lot is one legitimate reason for a tax increase. Adding a room to your house is another logical reason. While new construction has occurred in the county, new building owners will not be supplying the vast amount of taxes required to pony up a projected additional $24 million in tax revenues. 

Not everyone will pay a fair tax share of a $24 million increase. Recall that the County Commissioners have granted millions of dollars in property tax exemptions (PILOTs) to many commercial property owners that either built new buildings or improved old ones. Therefore, any additional new tax monies must come from other residential and commercial taxpayers. Bottom line: Many taxpayers who made no improvements to their properties, but received increased assessments, will be forced to pay more in property taxes to provide the the balance for an additional $24 million. 

Recently there was a Commission debate about what constitutes a tax increase. Commissioner Fairbanks was ethically and legally correct to balk at playing deceptive tax word games with the public. Let's be clear.  If an employer pays a salaried person more this year than they paid the same person last year, it is called a pay increase. If you own the same property as you owned last year, but are required to pay more in taxes than you did last year, it is a tax increase. 

Raising property assessments while claiming to leave the tax rate unchanged, is a classic example of how to create a stealthy "tax revenue windfall." Tax reappraisals are not supposed to result in stealthy "tax windfalls." To preserve the differences between doing legitimate assessment reappraisals and the legislative function of increasing taxes, more public transparency is required. 

If Commissioners want money to rain from the sky, they must accept responsibility for raising taxes even if they leave the millage rate the same. Commissioners who try to argue otherwise are deluding both themselves and the public. 

The state requires local transparency.  The Commission must first publicly out itself before they do the deed of approving a tax windfall in the same year of a property re-assessment. If anyone doubts this, they should contact the State Comptroller of Treasury, Justin P. WIlson, for clarification. Here is a quote from the State Comptroller's website, for those who don't know or just don't plan to follow state rules for public transparency in taxation. 

"In a reappraisal year, if the local governing body intends to adopt a tax rate that would generate more revenue than the previous year, a public hearing must be advertised and held." 

Deborah Scott

Improvements On The Glass Bridge

The glass bridge has been an embarrassing situation almost since the day of installation. At least two or three and usually more sections of glass have continuously been cracked. This creates fear in pedestrians and causes most to want to use the middle metal section. In addition, it has not been maintained for cleanliness.  I observed that both the front section and ... (click for more)

California Is Hypocritical - And Response

Re:  Roy Exum: California's Foolishness This is the ridiculousness that has always been California, land of fools and the extremist liberal hypocrite state. ("We" can punish "you" because "we" don't like what "you" stand for but don't punish "me" because "you" don't like what "we" stand for.)  Dear California, please drop anchor somewhere else because you're a large ... (click for more)

Young Woman Suffers Serious Injuries In 30-Foot Fall At Quarry At Greenway Farms

A young woman was seriously injured on Wednesday night  when she fell approximately 30 feet from a bluff at the the Greenway Farms quarry in Hixson.   Some kayakers were paddling in the quarry shortly after  8 p.m. when they saw the woman fall to the ground below. They immediately went over to the victim and called 911. The Chattanooga Fire Department ... (click for more)

Walker County Taking Out Another Loan To Deal With Debts Left By Bebe Heiskell Administration

Walker County officials said they are having to take out another loan to deal with debts left by the Bebe Heiskell administration. Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has called a special meeting for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the commissioner's office in Lafayette. The agenda includes a $4 million tax anticipation note from Lafayette Bank, which stepped in to help the new administration ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Memphis City FC Wednesday

 What a week it's been for CFC. After starting the season scoring only six goals in eight games, the boys in blue have racked up 12 goals in the last three matches, most recently shutting down FC Carolina United 5-0 this past Saturday.  Chattanooga FC returns to the pitch this Wednesday to take on interstate rival Memphis City FC in a must win game for both teams  ... (click for more)

Rodriquez Homers Twice As Lookouts Trip M-Braves Wednesday, 5-1

PEARL, Miss.  -- Jonathan Rodriguez hit two home runs as the Chattanooga Lookouts defeated the Mississippi Braves 5-1 on Wednesday. After already winning the first-half of the Southern League North Division, the Lookouts have opened the second-half in first place at 5-1. The Lookouts put together a strong, complete game with good pitching and some timely hitting.  ... (click for more)