Tax Collections Sky High

In what could only be considered a huge windfall for county government, property tax collections for 2007 have broken all records. With the February property tax deadline well passed. the county has already collected $22,543,410.00. This far surpasses collections for any previous year. On top of that, another million in late payments is expected to be collected over the next few months.

The big winner in the massive property tax collections is by all means the county general fund having already pulled in $8,629,728.00. That's more than a 1.3 million dollar increase for the general fund property tax collection over last year. Add another half million in late collections and the county general fund swells even higher.

All the other accounts that receive property tax revenues have also see sizeable increases in their revenue budgets. The Lenoir City School system has raked in $3,350,094.00.

In 2005 the commission narrowly, by one vote, passed a 21% property tax increase. This was the largest tax increase in the County's history. The commission passed the tax increase on what turned out to be erroneous financial advice from a representative of The County Technical Assistance Service, CTAS, who had given dire estimates on the county's financial position. All of the projected short falls turned out to be wrong. Unfortunately, the property tax increase had already been passed and we all know, the government never gives anything back.

With county coffers now flush with excess cash, the question is, what will local officials do with our money? History has proven that government rarely uses our money wisely. It's a safe bet the size of local government will get bigger. Since it's not likely commission would ever consider reducing the property tax rate, then it's time for commission to adopt the Senior Citizen property tax freeze that was voted in by a landslide in 2006.

With the cost of gas, groceries and everything else getting higher and higher, it's unfortunate that local government continues to drain our pockets while stuffing government pockets.

Below is a table showing property tax collections by year.

Property Tax Collections      
Fund 2004 2005* 2006 2007**
County General Fund $5,894,904.00 $7,468,882.00 $7,326,834.00 $8,629,728.00
County Debt Service $1,337,338.00 $1,028,300.00 $1,104,820.00 $1,171,189.00
County Capitol Projects $264,580.00 $270,591.00 $290,716.00 $308,210.00
Highway Department $264,580.00 $378,831.00 $348,917.00 $369,866.00
Convenience Centers $0.00 $162,355.00 $116,312.00 $123,261.00
School General Fund $5,461,170.00 $7,268,361.00 $7,588,390.00 $7,498,671.00
School Debt Service $0.00 $0.00 $1,021,203.00 $1,092,391.00
Lenoir City Schools $2,476,595.00 $3,339,443.00 $3,459,972.00 $3,350,094.00
  $15,699,167.00 $19,916,763.00 $21,257,164.00 $22,543,410.00
* 21% Property Tax Increase         
**Does Not Include 1.1 Mil. In Late Payments