JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Johnson City Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass an ordinance that increases property taxes Thursday morning after explaining that rising costs are putting a strain on the city.

In a live-streamed meeting on Thursday, commissioners discussed Ordinance #4848-23 which would set a Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) property tax of $1.98 per every $100 valuation of property within Washington County, $1.80 per $100 in Carter County and $1.80 per $100 in Sullivan County.

Compared to last year’s rates, the new Washington County rate would be a $0.25 (14.5%) increase. Carter and Sullivan County rates would also increase by $0.25 (13.8%).

“We just don’t have the buying power that we once had,” Dustin Thompson, budget director for the city, said in a presentation to the commission. “Last time we did a property tax adjustment compared to now, our buying power has decreased by at least 15%.”

According to slides presented to the commission, an investment of $1 million in 2015 would be enough to resurface roughly 3.71 lane miles of road throughout the city. In 2023, that same total reportedly covers 3.16 line miles.

Photo: City of Johnson City

Commissioner and former mayor Joe Wise agreed with Thompson’s assessment.

“When the mayor and I were first elected in 2016, the cost of a police cruiser was $12,000 [more] than it is today,” Wise said. “Fire trucks cost more, garbage trucks cost more, lane miles cost more. And citizens have a reasonable expectation that we’re going to continue to keep pace on the projects and the priorities that have been identified.”

Mayor Todd Fowler agreed with the measure after expressing reservations.

“I do not like raising taxes at all,” Fowler said. “But sometimes that’s the only thing you can do.”

The budget received unanimous approval on its first reading as well on June 1. The commission will vote on the ordinance after a third and final reading at its next scheduled meeting on June 15.