ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – Town officials are moving forward with a proposed property tax increase.
The Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved on first reading a 40-cent property tax increase during a meeting Monday evening.
“They need a tax increase, but why 40 cents?” asked community member J.D. Shook.
The plan is to raise property taxes by 40 cents for every $100 of assessed property value.
The rate will rise from $1.46 to $1.86 which can amount to an increase of hundreds of dollars a year for the average homeowner in Erwin.
“I’m on a fixed income and I have to pay my taxes on my house,” said Shook.
But Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley says this is necessary just to keep up with the town’s everyday expenses.
“This is just maintaining, this is nothing extra that we have added. It’s just to continue the services that we have already had but with better equipment” said Hensley.
The proposed tax hike would cover costs for the replacement of nine police vehicles, the hiring of two new officers and the purchase of new fire equipment.
Alderman Gary Chandler said, “I think we went about 10 years without upgrading on what we needed to do and now its caught up with us.”
Another challenge is the availability of taxable land. The mayor says 51% of county land is owned by the federal and state government.
“We have to maintain and be very creative in the use of the land that we do have” said Hensley.
She also says the increase is about more than just keeping up, its also to provide for future generations. She said the decision to increase taxes is not an easy one.
She and others on Board said the ultimate goal is to upgrade services in Erwin to appeal to younger people.
“To attract folks, and for people to want to be in our town, we have to continually update and spend money” said Alderman Mark Lafever.
The BMA will need to pass it on second reading on Monday, August 26. If that happens, a public hearing will be held prior to the final vote.