No property tax increase in city

Posted 4/23/19

No ... new ... taxes.The Cleveland City Council passed on first reading a balanced budget for fiscal year 2020, which will keep property taxes at their current level.The vote took place during the …

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No property tax increase in city


No ... new ... taxes.

The Cleveland City Council passed on first reading a balanced budget for fiscal year 2020, which will keep property taxes at their current level.

The vote took place during the city council's regularly scheduled meeting held Monday at the Municipal Building.

The motion to adopt the motion was made by Councilman Dale Hughes and seconded by Councilman Ken Webb.

City Manager Joe Fivas said no monies from the general fund were used to balance the budget.

Fivas said state reductions in sales tax revenue sharing, state reductions in the Hall Income Tax, as well as new projects that are “ripening at the same time” made developing the budget a challenge this year.

“This was a very difficult budget to develop,” Fivas said. “Our staff had to make some very difficult decisions.”

Fivas said there were “a lot of needs and a lot of wants.”

“It was hard to say the word 'No,'” Fivas said.

However, Fivas said the budget captured the city council’s priorities, including investments in traffic congestions, fire safety, police safety, downtown revitalization and quality of life projects.

For fiscal year 2020, the budget will include funds to hire two additional Cleveland Police Department officers, as well as an assistant police chief. In addition, the budget will allow for the purchase of six news replacement police vehicles.

The proposed budget is expected to set at $52.8 million, compared to $51.3 million for fiscal year 2019. The starting fund balance will be $14.2 million.

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson said he's very excited about the new budget.

"I just want to say this ... I've looked at a lot of budgets, and this is one of the most exciting budgets that I've had the opportunity to look at," Johnson said. "I just can't wait to see all of the things that will get implemented."

As for property taxes, they will remain at their current level, with $2.06 levied on each $100 of assessed valuation of all real and personal property. Last year, the city council voted to increase property taxes 29 cents from 1.77 by a 4-2 vote.

This years’ budget will contain funding for several mayoral and city council priorities that will take place over the next two years, including Inman Street redevelopment (see related story); implementing the 5 for 5 Plan for Parks Revitalization and Sports Tourism, beginning construction of the Five Points Entertainment Area Plan, property acquisition and implementation of the Whirlpool Area Redevelopment Plan, implementation of the Current Traffic Congestion Mitigation Project List, implementation of the Compensation Plan and Review Classification Plan and implementation of the Beautification and Aesthetics Plan.

The budget also benefits from the city’s recent restructuring of some $56 million in debt, generating significant savings for the city.

“We were able to do some amazing things by saving the community $6.3 million by refinancing our bond debt,” Fivas said. “We will continue to look for opportunities as they present themselves.”

The combined city and county tax rate of $3.77 is “very low,” according to Fivas, with the $4.83 the mean combined rate for similar cities in Tennessee. In 2008, the city and county tax rate for Cleveland was $3.67.

Currently, the combined rate in Maryville is $4.74; Oak Ridge, $5.11; Kingsport, $4.52; Johnson City, $4.39; and Bristol, 4.71,

“Our city and county leaders should take pride in these very low tax rates while delivering efficient and strong public services,” Fivas said.

To view the fiscal year 2020 budget, visit


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