KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL)- If you live in the city limits of Kingsport get ready for an extra expense on your water bill each month. Kingsport’s board of mayor and alderman passed their annual budget on its first reading on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The new budget includes a nearly $13 monthly fee that will be added to residents’ water and sewer bills each month if the motion passes it’s second and final reading later this month.
Kingsport Alderman Tommy Olterman said, “This issue is dividing our community.” Olterman and fellow Kingsport City Alderman Tom Parham seem to have differing views on the topic.
Parham told News Channel 11 that the city is in need of additional revenue to attract new residents while improving the life of current citizens. Parham said, “The easiest and simplest to understand is to just raise property taxes but the problem is if you raise property taxes then we’re way off kilter with other cities, Johnson City and Bristol.”
So, rather than raise property taxes the city is proposing a three-cent property tax decrease but they would be adding a $12.75 monthly garbage pickup fee.
Kingsport resident David bear said, “I do think that the community does not support this, I just think it’s unfair, especially when people are already struggling a lot.”
Olterman said he agrees with Bear. Olterman said, “I’m all for One Kingsport but I’m not for a garbage fee.” “I think we can find other ways to raise revenue,” he said.
If the fee passes, city residents will not be able to opt out of the trash pickup program. “It’s part of the services and it’s fixed,” he said.
Bear said he believes the city should continue to operate within its current budget rather than tacking on additional fees. He said, “We all have a budget and we all try to stick within our budget so I don’t think the city should be any different than the paying citizens that pay taxes.”
According to Parham, even if the fee is implemented Kingsport will still be one of the lowest costs of living in the region. Parham said, “It’s time to change and grow our city. We want Kingsport to be a preferred place to live and a place that is attractive to young people to stay and seniors to enjoy.”
The added fee still has to pass its second reading in order to be implemented. Kingsport’s board of mayor and alderman will vote on the fee for a final time on Tuesday, June 21st. If passed by the board, the fee begins implementation next month (when the new fiscal year begins).
If passed, a tax relief program will be available for those who qualify. The proposed decreased rate, for those who qualify, would make it s $9 monthly fee verses the $12.75 fee. Forms are available at Kingsport city hall. To access the property tax relief information online, click on the links below:
- Seniors (65+) with combined 2014 annual income <$28,690. Tax relief is placed on the first $23,000 of property value. https://www.comptroller.tn.gov/pa/pdf/disabledelderlytaxreliefbrochure.pdf
- Totally and permanently disabled with combined 2014 annual income <$28,690. Tax relief is placed on the first $23,000 of property value. https://www.comptroller.tn.gov/pa/pdf/disabledelderlytaxreliefbrochure.pdf
- Disabled veterans with combined 2014 annual income <$60,000. Tax relief is placed on the first $100,000 of property value. https://www.comptroller.tn.gov/pa/pdf/disabledveterantaxreliefbrochure.pdf
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