In this time of high unemployment and general economic crisis, it is encouraging that the Chattanooga City Council has passed unanimously a 2011-12 budget that will include no property tax increase.
The $201 million budget will grow by about $20 million, but that increase comes not from a property tax increase but from other revenue growth and from the city’s gain of about $10 million after its 45-year-old sales tax agreement with Hamilton County ended in May.
The city and the county have been wrestling over funding of various social service and other agencies, but city officials have said they plan to use the entire $10 million they got from the end of the sales tax agreement to fund agencies.
Funding for the agencies was intentionally kept out of the budget that passed this week. Instead, a special meeting will be held July 12 to determine how much money each of the agencies in question will receive.
Not surprisingly, the council faces numerous requests for funding from a range of agencies, and debate continues over whether the city and county are both “pulling their weight” to pay for various services. Ultimately, though, whoever pays the bills, there is never enough money to fund everything as much as we might like — especially when the economy is weak and government revenue is far from plentiful.
Still, this year’s city budget passed with considerably less pain than last year’s, when a 37-cent property tax increase was put into effect.
The new budget will have small increases in employee compensation as well as some extra money for infrastructure and parks and recreation, said Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd.
At any rate, while there will always be questions about whether this or that agency or program got enough city dollars, Chattanoogans can breathe a sigh of relief that there will not be a property tax increase this year.