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Metro Council approves second reading of budget

Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 11:59 am

Amended plan includes 22-cent tax increase, would still pay off jail in one year

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — The Metro Lynchburg/Moore County Council is close to having a new budget in place for Fiscal Year 2016-17. The Council passed an amended second reading of the budget — which now includes a 22-cent tax increase rather than 25 cents — on Monday night at its regular monthly meeting.

The first reading, which included a 25-cent tax increase, passed in June. After a public hearing on Monday night, the Council voted to pass the amended budget on second reading. A special call meeting has now been set for Monday, July 25 at 5:30 p.m. to hear the third and final reading.

On the recommendation of Budget Committee chairman Tommy Brown, on Monday, the Council voted unanimously to amend the budget, reducing the proposed tax increase from 25 cents to 22 cents. Brown then made the motion to hear the second reading as amended.

County Budget HearingThe budget passed 11-3.

Glenn Searcy, Parks Norman, Gordon Millsaps, Patrick Maynard, Coleman March, Wayne Hawkins, Denning Harder, Marty Copeland, Amy Rhoton Cashion, Brown and Keith Huffer voted ‘yes,’ while David Boyce, Arvis Bobo and Shaun Adams each cast a ‘no’ vote. Wayne Rhoton was absent.

During the course of the budget process the proposed property tax-rate increase has bounced from 20 cents in May, to 25 cents in June and now back down to 22 cents.

The 25-cent increase actually passed by a 10-1 margin in June.

The 25-cent increase the Committee proposed last month was intended to pay off the county’s $1.4 million jail renovation project sooner than expected. It would in fact get the debt off the county’s books in just one year.

On Monday, Brown said the Budget Committee voted 4-0 to reduce the tax by 3 cents, which would come out of the County General Fund. The jail is still expected to be paid off in one year.

Metro Mayor Sloan Stewart said the county would have excess money for FY2016-17 due in part to not having to host the trials of Blaine Roper and Keri Roper, which was expected to cost the county approximately $35,000. The county also received approximately $34,000 in delinquent property taxes and investment income that’s just been received. Combined, that will put the county’s fund balance at the appropriate level for the year.

School renovations

During a public hearing prior to Monday’s meeting, Brown said that paying off the jail early, despite a 3-cent reduction in the proposed tax increase, would still leave money to begin renovation of the Moore County High School campus.

“That’s kindly the route we’re taking. (I) don’t know how long it will take to build the school,” Brown said when questioned by Larry King. “That’s kinda a question for (Director of Schools) Chad (Moorehead).”

Moorehead said that, based on the Lynchburg Elementary School project, once the school board “got the green light for funding” they would contact architects. It then takes about 6-8 months to get the drawings completed before bids can go out.

“From the time we said go, (it was) 18 months; (that’s a) ballpark figure,” added Moorehead.

If the proposed budget passes its third reading on July 25, which is expected, the new budget and the 22-cent property tax increase will come just a month away from a resolution on the August primary ballot that will ask the voters of Moore County if they’d support a property tax increase to fund upgrades, improvements and renovations for Moore County high school and middle school campus.

Council Chairman Coleman March reminded those in attendance on Monday that the resolution on the August primary ballot was a non-binding vote, regardless of which way it goes. Even if voters decided they would back an additional 37-cent property tax increase, it’s unlikely it would be approved by the Council.

Monday’s proposed tax increase will make the rate go from $2.43 per $100 to $2.65 per $100 in the county’s outlying areas and from $2.48 to $2.69 in the Urban Services district.

Figuring the tax

State law establishes the assessment ratio for different classes of property. Residential and farm is set at 25 percent of its appraised value, while the rate for commercial/industrial property is set at 40 percent of its appraised value.

To figure residential and farm property taxes at the current rate, take 25 percent of the parcel’s appraised value; divide by 100; and multiply by 2.43.

For instance, if a parcel is appraised at $200,000, take 25 percent, which is $50,000 and divide by 100. That’s 500. Now multiply 500 by 2.43. The result is $1,215 in annual property taxes.

At the amended rate proposed during Monday’s meeting, that same parcel of land would have an annual tax of $1,325 or an increase of $110. Land that appraised for $100,000 would see an increase of $55 annually.

Where it’s going:

—County General: $1.02

—Solid Waste: $.10

—Highway: $.015

—Debt Service: $.31

—Capital Project: $.015

—School Department: $1.19

  • Total: $2.65

—Urban Services: $.04

  • Total in Urban Services district: $2.69

—By ROBERT HOLMAN, Publisher (mcnpub@lcs.net)

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