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East Ridge City Manager J. Scott Miller, left, Mayor Brent Lambert, attorney Alex McVeagh, Councilman Jacky Cagle and City Recorder Janet Middleton.
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East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert
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Reappraisal fee waiver letter

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Six small cities in Hamilton County don't think they should have to pay for part of the cost of reappraising property.

State law requires cities to help pay for the reappraisals, which occur every four years, but Hamilton County municipalities have not been charged in the 27 years the law has been on the books.

The next reappraisal occurs in 2017, and new County Property Assessor Marty Haynes plans to start charging cities.

Hamilton County's 10 cities could owe a combined $772,674 in reappraisal costs if the county decides to begin enforcing the state law.

The assessor appraises all properties in the county, including those inside the cities, for tax purposes.

The Small Cities Coalition of Hamilton County — which includes Collegedale, East Ridge, Lakesite, Lookout Mountain, Red Bank and Soddy-Daisy — contends its citizens already pay for the reappraisal through their county taxes. The six cities will have to pay a combined $180,415 by June 30 unless the county commission puts the brakes on the plan. According to state law, the county commission has sole authority in the matter.

In a recent meeting, East Ridge officials discussed the issue.

"They are looking to bill the City of East Ridge $62,000, which I do not have in the budget at all," City Manager J. Scott Miller said. "None of the cities have this in their budget."

Mayor Brent Lambert said as soon as East Ridge council members gave their consent, the coalition will issue a letter to the commission seeking the waiver.

"It's obvious our taxpayers are already paying the county to do the appraisals," Councilman Jacky Cagle said.

The coalition letter offers to codify the long-standing practice of waiving the fee, echoing a stance taken by Mayor Andy Berke regarding Chattanooga's projected $557,000 reappraisal bill.

Haynes has said he will present the reappraisal billing plan to the Hamilton County Commission in the coming months.

Several commissioners have said they wished to see the plan before they make any judgments about it.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.

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