Johnson City Commissioners heard the first reading of the FY 2016 budget Thursday, a budget that includes a significant property tax increase.
If the tax increase passes, it’ll be the first increase in almost 15 years. The proposed increase of 37 cents would bring the city property tax to $1.99 per $100 of assessed property.
Commissioners had the tall task Thursday of sorting through a proposed budget of more than $225 million.
City Manager Pete Peterson said the city has been fortunate enough to operate in the black without a tax increase for more than a decade, but that it’s time to raise taxes in order to maintain the quality of life in Johnson City.
The proposed budget includes more than $13 million for the police department, about $74 million for the school district, and almost $13 million for public works. The budget also includes significant funding for road resurfacing, and after an amendment proposed by Vice Mayor Clayton Stout, dedicates $3 million to repairing and repaving Johnson City roadways.
“We have identified a problem and that’s our city roads, we see it, we feel it, we know that that’s a problem, we see it every day,” Stout said.
The proposed 37 cents tax increase would be used to fund street resurfacing, snow removal, street lighting, and capital equipment for various departments, among other things.
While some commissioners feel it’s time to raise property taxes, other said they still think the budget can be balanced without one.
“I think we can do most of it in a much more efficient manner, not necessarily starting with a tax increase, maybe ending at that. I’d still like to see that process gone through with that as the final step rather than the first,” said Commissioner David Tomita.
Last year, instead of increasing property taxes, the city borrowed $1.5 million to fund resurfacing projects.
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