The last time Knoxvillians saw a property tax increase, current governor Bill Haslam was the mayor asking for it. It was 2004, Haslam's first year in office.
Ten years later, Haslam's successor says rising expenses are forcing her to ask for an increase. At a Wednesday afternoon event to unveil her 2014-2015 budget, Madeline Rogero said she will ask City Council to approve a $.34 increase for every $100 of assessed value. That means the owner of a $100,000 home will pay approximately $85 in additional taxes next year.
Rogero says an alternative plan would have resulted in a six-percent cut in city services. "I realize that any property tax increase places a burden on property owners," she says, "but I also realize the burden that we place on residents when we cut police and fire service, when we let our streets and sidewalks deteriorate and when we stop investing in our future."
The new tax will result in an additional $14 million in revenue for the city. However, much of that increase will be consumed by an increase in the city's pension commitment for next year. The remainder will help pay for rising health care costs and a 2.5 percent pay increase for city workers.
Rogero says recent reassessments in county taxes have lowered the effective tax rates for residents. Even if city council approves her increase, she says the effective tax rate for Knoxvillians will still be lower than it was ten years ago.
Rogero's $200.5 million general fund budget also includes funding for new sidewalks and crosswalks, a million dollars for greenways, improvements to Lakeshore Park, Fountain City and Ijams Nature Center and renovations to the Magnolia Warehouse District and Corridor.