Homeowners in Smyrna get their last chance to voice their opinions about a nearly 50% property tax hike Tuesday night.
Smyrna's town council plans to hold a public hearing at the own hall starting at 6 p.m.
The issue at hand will be the property tax increase and a final vote on the city's $33 million budget for the 2013 to 2014 year.
Smyrna's property tax rate would increase from 75.95 cents per $100 of appraised value to around $1.10 per $100 of appraised value, which is a 46.6 percent increase in the property tax rate.
For the average homeowner who owns a $155,000 home, the estimated tax increase will be around $11 a month, or $132 a year.
City officials said the increase is needed to avoid firing some city workers and further depleting the city's rainy day fund.
"This is the right step," Smyrna Town Manager Mark O'Neal said. "The town council has been very vigilant in looking at our financial position through the years."
Smyrna laid off more than 30 city employees to help balance the current town budget and the town manager said the town has cut around 90 positions over the last few years.
The town has also dipped into its reserve fund to help fill the gap. The increased property tax is expected to generate $3 million for the fund.
"The economic vitality has to be supported if we are going to continue growing and continue to prosper," O'Neal said.
O'Neal also said the increased reserve fund will make the city more attractive to lenders. The city plans to borrow money to complete major projects in the town, including a $15 million connector project at Interstate 24 and Rocky Fork Road.
"That requires the bonding capability and the debt service capability to service that debt," O'Neal said. "That's needed to continue growing the infrastructure to support jobs and growth."
However, some homeowners worry how the increase will affect people on fixed incomes and renters who may see the increase in higher rent costs.
Esmeralda Diaz rents a home in Smyrna and said a rent increase would stretch her budget.
"Yes, it would, especially now that my hours are lowered by an hour and a half a week," she said. "I am job hunting, but I have not found something permanent yet."
Homeowner Greg Wayman said his family would be able to absorb the increase and the increased tax bill is worth it if it helps Smyrna grow.
"It could give us more things to do here in Smyrna instead of having to go elsewhere," he said. "We could get better parks, better roads and other things."
He continued, "That would make it easier for people to stay here instead of us being a commuter community."
The proposed property tax increase has passed two initial readings. If it is passed on final reading Tuesday the new tax rate takes effect July 1.
Smyrna's property tax is separate from a proposed property tax increase that Rutherford County is considering.
That property tax increase would be around four percent if passed by the county commission.
Thursday, August 28 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-28 19:28:07 GMT
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