County Commission Votes 5-4 Against 34-Cent Property Tax Increase For The Schools

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The County Commission voted 5-4 on Wednesday morning against a 34-cent property tax increase for the county schools.

Opposed were Greg Martin, Randy Fairbanks, Chester Bankston, Tim Boyd and Sabrena Smedley.

In favor were Chip Baker, Katherlyn Geter, Warren Mackey and David Sharpe.

County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said the action means that none of the budget is approved until the schools come back with a new budget that omits the requested $34 million in new funds. That will happen after the School Board meets and makes reductions from the current budget, then it is re-submitted to the County Commission.

The showdown vote came before a capacity crowd after a long campaign led by County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Supt. Bryan Johnson.

Commissioner Baker, at the start of the high-tension meeting, came out for the full 34-cent property tax increase. He made a quick motion to approve the proposed budget, and it was seconded by Commissioner Sharpe.

Commissioner  Bankston made an amendment that would cut the tax increase and Commissioner Tim Boyd seconded. That was the motion that was eventually approved.

Earlier Commissioners Smedley and Fairbanks had indicated they would oppose the tax hike, while Commissioners Mackey and Geter had been expected to approve the tax increase.

That left Commissioner Martin as the key swing vote.

Commissioner Martin afterward said, "My vote today was not as easy one for me, and I'm sure I will hear from those who disagree with my decision. That's okay, but i believe going forward it's time for the School Board and County Commission to collaborate on a strategic plan to fund our public education needs and address our long-term facility issues.

"Raising property taxes is not the only solution to this challenge. As someone who served on the School Board for many years, I believe the solution will require the School Board to make some difficult decisions on their end, especially when it comes to closing some of our schools and rezoning students. Equally as important, I believe it's time for our community to take a serious look at identifying other potential revenue sources to fund our school system.

"I stand ready to be a part of this important dialogue. I look forward to hearing back from the School Board on how we can begin the discussion n addressing our long-term public education needs."

Both sides were given 20 minutes for a final say on what the commission should do before the vote.

A 34-cent property tax increase would have meant an additional $170 per year on a $200,000 house.

There was also a large crowd outside the commission meeting room.

Commissioner Baker, who was on the school board for 12 years, said business leaders closely examined the requested school budget and endorsed it. He said, "I think now is the time when everyone is aligned. We've got to get it done now."

Chairman Smedley said, even without a tax increase, the schools were getting $18.9 million more than the prior year. She also said, "I've heard from a number of senior citizens calling me in tears. Every day they have to decide whether to buy medicine or food."

Commissioner Boyd said he went through the submitted county school budget line by line and cut out $34 million "without touching any academic programs." 

Commissioner Sharpe said the commission was taking action on senior tax relief that he said would be a "positive" for some of the elderly as far as their taxes were involved.

However, only three commissioners voted in support of his plan to ask the Legislature to move the eligible income level for senior tax relief from just under $30,000 to over $40,000. Also supporting were Commissioners Geter and Mackey.

 

 


Members Of Large-Scale Heroin Ring In Chattanooga, Cleveland Get Federal Prison Sentences

Alexander Encourages U.S. Trade Representative To Work Towards Zero Tariffs, Zero Barriers

MTAS Report On Collegedale Police Close To Being Finished; Commissioners To Hear It In Closed Session


Three members of a large-scale heroin distribution ring in Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tn., have been sentenced to time in federal prison. Cameron Hunter-Loftin appeared before Judge Sandy ... (click for more)

Senator Lamar Alexander urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to update and improve the process for granting exclusions from tariffs on certain imported goods from China. “As ... (click for more)

The report concerning Collegedale’s police department that MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) was asked to do, is close to being finished. Honna Rogers, the city’s liaison with MTAS, ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Members Of Large-Scale Heroin Ring In Chattanooga, Cleveland Get Federal Prison Sentences

Three members of a large-scale heroin distribution ring in Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tn., have been sentenced to time in federal prison. Cameron Hunter-Loftin appeared before Judge Sandy Mattice on Monday morning and was given a seven-year sentence. In connection with the same case, Monte Brewer received six years. The sentence is consecutive to cases Brewer faces in state ... (click for more)

Alexander Encourages U.S. Trade Representative To Work Towards Zero Tariffs, Zero Barriers

Senator Lamar Alexander urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to update and improve the process for granting exclusions from tariffs on certain imported goods from China. “As we have discussed, I believe that the Administration’s broad-based tariffs have had a negative impact on American companies, farmers and consumers. I strongly support the President’s long-term ... (click for more)

Opinion

The Wheel Tax Wouldn't Be A Sacrifice And Supports Our Teachers - And Response (7)

I appreciate our underpaid teachers here in Tennessee so much. We as a whole have a moral obligation to make sure we contribute to their pay. A wheel tax on our cars is a minimal expense to most of us. Sixty dollars is not enough for us to complain. We shouldn't even bat an eye at that if it contributes to the hard working teachers who sacrifice daily for our children. We ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Have At It, Sisters!

Yes, it didn’t take long … not long at all … for a majority (remember this word) of the Hamilton County Commission to request a meeting with those teachers who still dare to bear the faces after sending a live warhead of stupid over the bow to their funding body. On Sunday there appeared a letter that chastised, by name, five county commissioners who neither deserved it nor toil ... (click for more)

Sports

Bryan Falls In Hoops Opener at University of Cumberlands

– Bryan men’s basketball paid a visit to Mid-South Conference opponent University of the Cumberlands on Monday night for their season-opener and came up just shy in a 77-70 decision that went the Patriots’ way. The early test for the Lions was no small challenge, considering the Patriots are coming off a 2018-19 campaign that included four upsets over NAIA top-25 programs and an ... (click for more)

Vols Focused On South Carolina After Holding Alabama To Its Lowest Point Total

After a hard-fought battle in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where the Vols held the top-ranked Crimson Tide to its lowest point total of the season in a 35-13 loss, Tennessee is looking forward to returning to Neyland Stadium to host a late afternoon matchup with South Carolina on Saturday at 4 p.m. (ET). "Neyland Stadium has been really an electric atmosphere this whole season," head ... (click for more)