We had a budget meeting yesterday. We were given agendas as we arrived along with additional, updated information on some funds--like highway and sanitation. Right at the start, Commissioner Guy Collins moved for a 2% increase for some employees (about 9) in the sanitation department. Some commissioners were concerned about picking out some employees for a raise and not others and trying to give a raise when we don't yet have the certified tax rate from the state.
The motion passed with Herbert Harville, Nancy Phillips, and I voting "no." My no was not in opposition to the raise--I agree with Guy that these employees and all other county employees deserve a raise. I just didn't want to start picking out some employees for a raise and not others. It's a matter of fairness. Also, I want to see what the "certified" rate is before voting on any budget and raises.
If you are wondering what the "certified" tax rate is, it is the adjusted tax rate that the state will provide to us in the next few weeks. 2005 is an appraisal year, and most property in Hamblen County increased in value. After appraisals and appeals are complete, the state takes the new appraisals and adjusts the tax rate downward to get the certified rate. The purpose is for the new higher appraisals and the new lower certified tax rate to bring in the same amount of money to the county as the old lower appraisals did with the old higher tax rate.
When you apply all this to an individual taxpayer, it can be summed up like this---If your property increased in value more than the county average of about 12%, then you will likely be paying more property tax dollars to the county in 2005 than you did in 2004 just because of your appraisal increase. But be aware that Commission can also take the certified tax rate and increase it, regardless of the appraisals. Any increase above the state certified tax rate is a tax rate increase and that, too, can result in a higher tax bill for most people.
The Budget Committee will meet again on Thursday, July 7, at 4:00 in the Hamblen County Courthouse, large courtroom. These are open meetings, and visitors are welcome. Just a reminder to those who have cable TV- Tapes of county commission meetings are shown on Charter Cable channel 7 at 9:00 pm on Tuesday and Saturday evenings and on Adelphia Cable channel 73 at 1:30 and 7:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Have a wonderful Fourth of July! We have much to be thankful for.