Sullivan County Commission approves budget, property tax increase

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Property owners in Sullivan County will soon see an increase in their property taxes, but not by as much as what county leaders originally had planned.

The Sullivan County Commission voted 16–1–5 Thursday night to effectively raise the property tax rate by 9 cents per $100 of taxable property.

A property tax increase was expected to happen this year. Last year, commissioners voted to raise the property tax rate this year by 12 cents. But with the approval of a new tax levy Thursday night, that 12 cent tax increase will be a 9 cent increase instead.

The tax hike will help offset debts associated with the future construction of a new county jail. Overcrowding issues at the current jail have plagued the county for years.

“The County Commission in September of last year voted with a majority to raise taxes 12 cents to fund an $80 million dollar bond. We were able to pull that down to 9 cents, which on a $200,000 home that’s about $45 more a year,” said Commissioner Mark Vance.

Commissioners also passed a $207 million budget for 2021-2022 that includes a 4 percent raise for teachers and a 5 percent raise for county employees.

“During my tenure with Sullivan County, the teachers in our district have not received a significant pay increase,” said Katie McGee, a Sullivan County Schools teacher. “During my time in Sullivan County, I’ve also seen many talented and wonderful educators leave our school district to receive higher pay in neighboring districts.”

Commissioners believe the teacher pay raise will make the school system more competitive in the job market.

The budget also includes the $8.8 million listed by Sullivan County Schools as one-time expenditures that some commissioners have expressed concern about. Some of that funding will go toward improvements to existing schools as the district consolidates some facilities.

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