County doesn't need property tax increase

Posted 6/30/19

To The Editor:Commissioner [Thomas] Crye made a statement after the [Bradley County] Finance Committee meeting on May 9 that Bradley County has not had a property tax increase since 1996 (22 …

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County doesn't need property tax increase

Posted

To The Editor:

Commissioner [Thomas] Crye made a statement after the [Bradley County] Finance Committee meeting on May 9 that Bradley County has not had a property tax increase since 1996 (22 years).

That is an incorrect statement.

Taxes on my house in 1996 were $315.48, and in 2018 they were $677. That is 215%, or in other words, a 115%  increase, and that is an average increase of 5.2% per year.

The inflation increase from 1996 to 2018 is 60%, or 2.7% per year. So, my taxes have been increasing at nearly twice the inflation rate.

The total property tax for the county in 1996 was $18,197,415, and in 2018 it was $43,833,653.32, which is 241%, or in other words, a 141% property tax increase.

The population in the county in 1996 was 79,938, and in 2018 was estimated to be 106,727. This is 134%, or a 34% increase. This means that the county has increased property tax 4.1 times faster than the population has grown.

One of the main reasons to raise property taxes is that the county cannot borrow any more money without either raising taxes or taking a lower credit or bond rating.

On June 30, 1996, the county's debt was $31,569,796, and on June 30, 2018, it was $79,109,363. That is 251%, or a 151% increase, which is 10% more than the county's tax revenue increased. The county's debt has increased nearly 4.5 times faster than the county's population has.

A government — be it city, county, state or federal — never borrows its way to prosperity and individuals very, very rarely do either. This county should never incur any debt for anything except maybe short-term for a major disaster.

The fire tax has been based on whether the property is in the Fire District 1 (outside the fringe) or Fire District 2 (inside the fringe). The rate of fire tax outside the fringe has been two cents  cheaper because of a considerably greater response time and lesser service. 

They claim that 95% of county residents now have the same ISO rating as the justification for equalizing the rates. What about the other 5%, and what about those of us outside the fringe who still do not have as good of a response time and lesser service?

Farmers Union Mutual Fire Insurance Co. does not base their rates on ISO ratings, and I've been told that several others don't either.

It is past time for this county to stop bribing businesses and people to move here and to start working toward a balanced budget and getting our financial house and priorities in order.

The farmers, businessmen and the people who enjoy a rural lifestyle get pretty tired of paying ever-increasing taxes to subsidize growth, which is a synonym for cancer.

Stanley Thompson is called the tax assessor by a lot of people, but make no mistake about it, the real tax assessors are the 14 people on the Bradley County Commission.

The way this County Commission is trying to operate and completely ignore Mayor [D. Gary] Davis' budget puts me in mind of a man in a tavern whose credit card is maxed out ... who has spent all of his money, and he still wants to buy everyone another round.

Maybe a good start on fixing this problem would be to stop writing checks to the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Board. 

We do not need a property tax increase in Bradley County and that includes any tax that is based on property value no matter what it is called.

If you agree, you better contact your commissioners ASAP. Their telephone numbers can be found at bradleycountytn.gov .

— Milton Humberd Jr.

Cleveland

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