No Lenoir City tax increase

Stephanie Myers-News-Herald

Lenoir City residents will not see a tax increase in the upcoming year, city council decided Monday night.

Officials are counting on an improving economy to bring in more tax revenue, while there is a $143,000 increase in appropriations for next fiscal year's budget.

"That's what lead us to be able to go with the inflation and still hold our budget down. I'm very pleased we didn't have to have a tax increase this year," Budget Committee Chairman Eddie Simpson said.

The budget committee expects $8,676,394 in total revenue from taxes, including real and personal property, hotel/motel, local and state sales and wholesale beer taxes, according to city documents. Those numbers are down almost $90,000 from 2011-2012 year end estimates, which are not set in stone until after the end of the fiscal year June 30.

City Recorder Jim Wilburn, who assisted the budget committee, said 2012-2013 projections are based on the previous year's budget. Like the 2011-2012 budget, next year is not set in stone, but the city is expecting an uptick in the local economy.

"You just have to look at previous years and you have to read a lot into what the climate is as far as looking at the rate of inflation, unemployment rate. You look at all of that to arrive at these numbers. Once again it's a look back and see," Wilburn said. "You kind of compare what has gone on in the past and see what will happen in the future to arrive at these numbers."

The city is expecting an estimated $300,000 increase in real and personal property revenue.

"A lot of that is based on development. We have a new apartment complex down here, The Cove, so you factor that in. There is some work being done on other developments like Town Creek, so we believe there is going to be some other revenue sources coming in," Wilburn said.

Property taxes will remain at $1.0615 per $100 of assessed value on all real and personal property.
"We still budget conservatively, but we did raise (revenue predictions) a bit in budget," Amber Scott, Lenoir City human resources director, said.

The city expects more visitors - the Tennessee Bass Federation Tournament is coming to Loudon County in September - and consequently an increase in hotel/motel tax revenues. Lodging businesses pay a 5 percent tax on their gross income to the city.

On expenses, the city does expect a $50,000 increase in health, dental and life insurance payments for city employees. "People are getting older and you're going to have more health claims. It's just a progression," Wilburn said.

"You're testing the winds of the way the economy is doing. We feel like the economy may be recovering," he said. "Again you are going on the data that you see and you are extrapolating from that. It's a little uptick, not doubling. We hope that continues."

Monday night was council's first reading of the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget. Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at 6:40 p.m. June 25 with a second reading and vote expected to follow.

In other business, council:

● Approved the minutes of the May 14 meeting.

● Recognized that state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, was visiting the council meeting.

● Approved the first reading of the Lenoir City Schools 2012-2013 budget for the general purpose, sales tax, federal projects and food service funds. "There are no changes as far as revenue on the city side," Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens said.

● Approved closing three separate Lenoir City Schools fund accounts and transferring those funds into one lump bank account under the general purpose school fund.

● Approved designating the War Memorial Building as an American Red Cross emergency shelter.
Lenoir City Parks and Recreation Director Steve Harrelson said grant funds may be available by designating the site.

"So it would be good to get that added," Harrelson said. "We've been talking about the War Memorial Building the last few weeks and looking for some possibilities for grant funding and so forth to do some restoration of the building."

The building, which was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, was previously designated an emergency shelter 10 years ago.

● Approved Lenoir City Police Department permanent full-time employment for Brandon Burley, who Chief Don White said satisfactorily completed his probationary period.

● Approved the personnel committee's recommendation that Donald Lorenz and Bradley Brown fill two LCPD vacancies. Both currently work part time for the police department.