ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Elizabethton City Council gave initial approval to the town’s 2023-24 budget, which includes a 5% property tax increase.

The council voted 6-1 on Thursday to raise the property tax rate by eight cents, from $1.57 to $1.65 per $100 of assessed value.

City Manager Daniel Estes told News Channel 11 that city leaders were able to balance the budget without a tax increase but they wanted to prioritize infrastructure investments.

“When we looked at the bottom line, the council decided they wanted to make a stronger emphasis for the upcoming year on paving,” Estes said.

Estes said every penny of the $240,000 dollars generated by the increase will flow into the city’s repaving budget. He said the city will begin repaving G Street next spring when TDOT work on Elk Avenue ends.

“(G Street) has become the default detour place to go to if you wanted to avoid the TDOT construction,” said Estes. “So that causes wear and tear there.”

Not all council members were happy about the increase. Council Member Kim Birchfield voted against the budget, citing concerns from citizens.

“I’ve just had a lot of calls saying, ‘We’re old. We got to pay for medicine, groceries. We’re taxed to death. Please vote against this,'” Birchfield told News Channel 11.

Property taxes won’t be the only thing going up.

The council also approved a $1.50 increase to the city’s base water and sewer rates, raising the minimum rate to $19.82.

“It’s one of those necessary evils,” said Mayor Curt Alexander. “Our cost of chemicals, our cost of treating the water, our cost of paying people has gone up. So we’re merely trying to recover our costs of doing business.”

Estes says though raising rates is never easy, this year it’s necessary.

“People expect us to deliver every time you know, whenever you turn on the tap, the water has to come out,” Estes said. “And to do that we have to have the staff here to run it adequately.”

The council will vote one more time before formally adopting the budget.