Cleveland, Tenn.: Property tax increase in committee's sights

Cleveland, Tenn.: Property tax increase in committee's sights

April 19th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Howard Thompson

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Bradley County Finance Committee may talk Wednesday about a potential property tax increase.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Connie Wilson said she planned to bring up the topic as she responded Monday to Commissioner Adam Lowe's proposed priority list for reviewing county government budgets.

"That's the Finance Committee's job," said Commissioner Howard Thompson, responding to Lowe's list.

Wilson agreed.

"I already intended to ask whether they [Finance Committee members] favor or do not favor a property tax increase or a combination wheel tax," she said. "We need to talk about that before we proceed with budget hearings or any next step."

"I acknowledge this is likely what many of us, including the Finance Committee, already do," Lowe said. "This is an attempt to put what we do in our heads and in our meetings on paper for the public. There's a lot of questions about how we approach budgeting."

Lowe's list begins with funding required by law, then public safety and existing financial commitments. It ends with whether the budget proposals expand programs and services.

Commissioner Ed Elkins said he hesitated to follow a preset list. There could be projects proposed that are revenue neutral or even generate revenue, he said.

Lowe said all commissioners consider priorities but not necessarily in the same order.

"I appreciate Adam putting a lot of thought in this, but I think we are doing these things already," Commissioner Jeff Morelock said.

The commission voted nine to five for Thompson's substitute motion that the Finance Committee continue as it has been doing. The "yes" votes were Commissioners Elkins, Morelock, Thompson, Wilson, Bill Ledford, Mel Griffith, Robert Rominger, Louie Alford, and Terry Caywood.

Department budget hearings are scheduled for three days in May.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.