Every morning I wake up with a plan. The plan for today was to go over to City Hall to pick up some paperwork, then buy a few groceries and come home to play with my new kitten. As it turned out, I spent a lot more time at City Hall then I had planned, but this works out really well for this site.
I opened up the DNJ’s website this morning to see this headline: “La Vergne to double property tax rate.” I opened it up and was gobsmacked with a giant picture of Dennis Waldron. Well, hello there, Mr. Alderman! You can read the piece for yourself, but what it boils down to is this, Mayor Mosley says we have to do this, Dennis Waldron says, “Look at all the things we did without raising taxes!”
Um, yeah. Let me just straighten some things out. Ever heard the term, “unfunded mandates”? That’s a lot of what had been accomplished without raising taxes. You can’t continue to spend more and more without taking in more money. The upcoming budget is taking care of that, funding these things that were not funded previously.
Since I was going to City Hall anyway, I trotted on down to the Mayor’s office and sat down and talked with her. While I was there, Larry Flowers (definitely my favorite person at Channel 4) came in and I got to sit in on the interview he did with Mayor Mosley.
So, here’s what we talked about. When I was talking with the mayor prior to her interview with Mr. Flowers, I asked, “What alternatives to raising the taxes have you talked about?” She told me about how the city is actively trying to bring in some good retail stores to this city. Currently, Grant Green (city planner), Graeme Coats (on the planning commission and economic development advisory board), and Aldermen Tom Broeker and Sherry Green are at the International Shopping Center Conference, trying to work to bring us some more retail. This would help us bring in more of the sales tax income that we currently receive. Additionally, they are working with developers to bring better quality neighborhoods to the city. They are also turning the Old Timer’s Day into a festival that instead of costing the city money, will be a money maker for the city. So, raising property tax rates is not the only thing they are doing to try to bring more revenue to the city.
Mayor Mosley told me she has spent many sleepless nights thinking about how to balance the city budget, and having to raise taxes. She doesn’t want to. Nobody wants to. Sadly, it has to. There just isn’t enough money. She said she has a moral obligation to our city to provide the services we need, such as police officers and firefighters. Do we want a 5 minute police response time when we call 911? 3 minute response time when we have a house fire? I’d say we do- lives are at stake. What are your families’ lives worth to you?
The thing that Larry Flowers brought up that the DNJ article sadly lacked was this: what will this actually cost?
Currently our tax rate is 50 cents per thousand dollars that your house is assessed. Most houses in La Vergne assess in the $100,000-$150,000 range, so for the sake of my crapness at math, let’s take a look at what this will actually cost for a $120,000 house. If you have a house that assesses at $120,000, then currently the property tax you pay to the city is $60 a year, that’s $5 a month you’re paying. So if the tax rate doubles and goes up to $1 per thousand, that means you now pay $120 a year, or $10 a month. That is not going to break the vast majority of people. Even when coupled with the water rate increase, I figure I’ll be paying a total of $20 more a month. That means 5 less Red Bulls, or 2 less lunches out, or 2 less movies-in-the-theater.
EDIT: Poo, my math is bad. Apparently there’s a formula which you can go read here- How To Figure Your Property Tax Rates. Me, I just called the city to see what I paid last year. My house appraised for $124,000, and I paid $142 in city taxes last year. So, that means I’ll be paying $11.83 more per month. Yeah, still not going to break me- $12 extra a month plus the $15 extra in water bill increase means an extra $27 a month, which still means a few less Red Bulls, fewer lunches out, less extra stuff.
Mr. Flowers asked Mayor Mosley about possibly capping the rates for senior citizens and she stated that this is something they will be discussing soon.
So, before you start running around like a chicken with your head cut off about tax rates increasing, consider what it really means. Also, if you were one of the folks who was hit with a higher tax assessment recently, keep in mind that you can appeal that (this is done through the county) and when I have time, I will put a post up on how that process is done.
You know, this website has been asking for years why the property tax rates have not increased. Finally, we have someone in there who is not afraid to do this. Yes, it IS a lot to swallow at one time, but keep in mind, the mayor has a 5 year plan. A plan!! When’s the last time anyone in the city administration had a plan?