Washington Co. community members voice opinions on proposed 40-cent tax hike

WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – After heated debate, Monday night people who live in Washington County, TN will find out if they will be paying more in property taxes.

The County Commission will meet at 6 p.m. to vote on the proposed budget for next year including a 40 cent tax hike.

Monday morning, residents were able to voice their concerns at a public comment session in front of the Washington County budget committee.

“I’m afraid that the more money that we as taxpayers give you as commissioners, the more you spend,” Martha Davenport, who lives in Washington County said to the budget committee. “I have to wonder if you’re really in touch with the average household in this county.”

Budget committee chairman Joe Grandy said no one wants a tax hike, including him.

“What the commission has looked at over the last nine months is the capitol needs for the county which include a lot for the schools,” Grandy said.

That hike would bring the property tax to 2.38 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value.

This would be the first tax increase here since 2008.

“My reaction, first I had to do the numbers and see what that would mean for us, and I realized that’s 100 dollars a year for someone who owns a 100,000 dollar home, 200 a year for a 200,000 home, and up. I was just stunned, I mean that’s huge,” Adrienne Johnson, who lives in Boones Creek, said.

Boones Creek is an area at the center of the tax increase debate.

Of the proposed 40 cents, 27 cents will go to school capital projects, including building a new school in Boones Creek, something the principals of both the Boones Creek elementary and middle schools spoke in favor of Monday.

“Boones Creek Elementary School is a school that is slowly falling apart,” Boones Creek Elementary School Principal J.W. McKinney said.

“This will combine the elementary and middle school in to a K-8 for the community which is long overdue and long needed,” Boones Creek Middle School Principal Mike Edmonds said.

But some, like Johnson, say a new school isn’t the answer.

“We do need to invest in our schools, but the investment in our schools isn’t always financial. It’s the communities investing in schools, and even in the cases where you do need to put some money in, you may need to put money in to renovation, additions, different things, but they’re not doing it in a really effective, efficient way,” Johnson said.

One lingering unknown is where the school will be built.

“It’s a concern for the commissioners  as well, the school, the school board has had basically three years to chose a site and it’s a little bit frustrating were at this point with no final site proposed,” Grandy said.

But some commissioners hope funding the project will be a catalyst to get these details finalized.

Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge said total, the tax hike would help pay for 11 capital needs of the county.

Here is a breakdown of the .40 according to Eldridge:

  • .27 will go to school capital projects
  • .03 will go to school operating budget
  • .04 to general government capital projects
  • .05 to the general fund
  • .01 to highway capital projects- bridges

The final vote on the budget is set to come after another public hearing Monday night.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.


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