JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Johnson City Commission gave unanimous approval on first reading of the city’s budget, which includes a property tax increase.

If approved on two further readings, the property tax rate in the city will increase by 25 cents per $100 dollars of assessed home value.

Mayor Todd Fowler told News Channel 11 that there was no other option for the city.

“There is just no way to balance a budget and do the things that we need to furnish the services that we need for Johnson City,” said Fowler.

Though the commission voted unanimously, Commissioner Joe Wise said passing the first tax increase since 2015 was not an easy decision to make.

“We are not taking lightly the question of coming to taxpayers at a time when inflation is going through the roof, and asking you for money,” Wise said.

If approved, the city property tax rate would rise to $1.98 per $100 of assessed property value. For a person whose home is assessed at $200,000, property taxes would cost $10 more dollars per month, or about $125 more dollars per year.

City Manager Cathy Ball says the tax increase will fund three efforts: the construction of a New Towne Acres Elementary School, contributing to raises for county emergency workers, like 911 dispatchers, and infrastructure projects like road resurfacing.

“With inflation, our money doesn’t go as far so part of the proposal is that we would be able to keep up with infrastructure needs by adding more money,” said Ball.

Despite the tax increase, Fowler says there are things to celebrate in this year’s budget, like raises for city staff and investments to address homelessness by adding a homeless services coordinator.

“It was over a million and a half dollars just to keep up with what we should be paying our people to retain them,” said Fowler. “That’s really important to us too.”

The commission will have to approve the budget two more times before it is adopted.