Well, They Did It

With relatively little discussion and even less explanation, seven of the ten county commissioners voted to raise property taxes again. Commissioners Nancy Marcus, David Meers, Bob Franke, Roy Bledsoe, Harold Duff, Chris Park and Don Miller voted to increase the tax rate another eight cents. Voting no to higher taxes were commissioners Earlena Maples, Shirley Reno and Wayne Gardin. The new tax rate will now be $1.92.

This is the second tax rate increase in three years. In 2005, the rate was raised by thirty-two cents. Loudon County property owners have now seen a more than 26% increase in their property taxes in just three years. Commissioners Nancy Marcus, David Meers, Bob Franke and Don Miller voted for both tax increases.

It is note worthy that even though commissioner Nancy Marcus had vowed not to vote for the budget unless the rest of the commission  voted for her plan to increase insurance costs for employees. However, Marcus voted for the budget and the tax increase.

Loudon budget is $63.4M Property tax rises 8 cents; economy behind 'no' votes

By Robert Wilson knoxnews.com

LOUDON - With one commissioner voting "no" on every line item, Loudon County Commission has approved a budget totaling $63.4 million and raised the property tax rate by 8 cents to help fund school operations.

At its meeting Monday night, commissioners voted on 12 separate budget funds, including appropriations of $37.6 million to schools, $15.9 million to the county general fund, $2.7 million to highways and public works, $1.6 million to general debt service and $2.3 million to the education debt service.

Commissioner Earlena Maples told fellow commissioners that she voted "no" on every item because "the majority of people in my district do not want a tax increase.

"People are losing their homes, losing their jobs," and this budget, she said, "makes it harder on them."

In the end, though, the budget as recommended by the commission's Budget Committee did pass, as did the property tax increase.

Loudon County is making a substantial commitment to school improvements in the fiscal year that began July 1. The commission has diverted 5 cents of the property tax rate from the general fund balance to school operations and another 5 cents to school capital projects.

The 8-cent increase in the rate also will go toward school operations.

In addition, a $50-per-vehicle wheel tax is on the ballot Thursday, and if it passes - which some view as unlikely - that money also would be committed to capital projects for schools.

Maples also voiced objection to the issuance of $800,000 in capital outlay notes designated for repairs to school bleachers and roofs.

She said that each year the commission had approved funds for maintenance and that some of those funds had been used for salaries.

Maples said the governing body had "good intentions," but she was "disappointed" to learn that the maintenance funds had not been used for that purpose, requiring the $800,000 in new notes.

Commissioner Wayne Gardin joined Maples in saying he could not approve the budget in its entirety because it places an added tax burden on county residents.

The approved tax rate is $1.92 per $100 of assessed property value, up from $1.84 last year. Of the new tax rate, 60 cents goes to the general county fund, a half-cent to solid waste and sanitation, 4 cents to highways, $1.01 to school operations, 9.5 cents to general debt service, 15 cents to education debt service and 2 cents to general capital projects.