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People gather to watch a news conference outside the Hamilton County Courthouse in support of Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger's fiscal year 2020 budget on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Mayor Coppinger later presented his budget, which calls for a tax increase for additional funding for schools, to the county commission.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga's Governmental Affairs Committee has voted to support a $34 million tax increase for public education in Hamilton County with officials stating a lack of quality schools in certain areas of the county has negatively affected the industry. 

"As home builders, we hear over and over from our customers that the public school system needs improvement," said Doug Fisher, executive officer of the local Home Builders Association. "There are entire areas of this county that are hard to build in because the local schools need so much academic improvement. Families with children do not want to purchase a home in those areas."

Fisher said the tax increase will initially hurt developers' bottom lines, but longterm, it will create better educated graduates who can afford a new home. With the proposed hike, property taxes will go up 13%, meaning a noticeable increase in annual property tax.

"We see this as an investment in all of our futures and the future of Hamilton County," Fisher said. "I can't think of anything more fundamental to future growth than a safe and well-educated community."

Dozens of community members, prominent business leaders and educators have voiced support for Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger's and school Superintendent Bryan Johnson's proposed tax hike for public education.

Power Poll conducted two weeks ago found that of the 81 civic, business and government leaders surveyed, 73% consider a property tax increase to be necessary for fiscal year 2020. The Mayor's Budget Working Group also has expressed support for more schools funding.

According to the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, the average home value in Hamilton County is $187,000. The increase proposed by Coppinger and Johnson would cost the average homeowner less than $14 a month.

Below, we break down how much more property owners will pay monthly and annually, depending on property values.

Contact staff writer Allison Shirk Collins at ashirk@timesfreepress.com, @AllisonSCollins or 423-757-6651.

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