RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN ) – It’s something cities across Middle Tennessee are reckoning with – how do they pay for growth?
The Rutherford County mayor has had an idea in the works for months, and now he’s putting pressure on the state to make it happen.
“What we are experiencing is a boom in population that literally is pricing out the existing affordable housing,” said Rutherford County Mayor Joe Carr while testifying before the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations Hearing. “How do we maintain attainable housing or affordable housing because unless we do that, we’re going to have homeless people out on the street.”
This week, it was a desperate plea from Carr before state leaders to address the changes he’s seeing in his county, specifically focused on what lawmakers can do to help.
“We are getting ready to price ourselves completely out of the affordable, attainable, housing market, unless the Tennessee General Assembly gives each community, all 95 counties, the specific tools they need to address that specific problem, because there’s not a cookie cutter solution,” he said.
During the hearing, Carr explained in January 2021 the median house for sale in Rutherford County sold for $300,000; two years later the same house sold for $459,000.
“That kind of upward pressure on the housing market literally takes away any affordable housing that previously may have existed, and so for Rutherford County we need the tools to compete, to maintain a balance that may exist, but that is quickly eroding away,” Carr said.
The tool he’s hoping to use is impact fees. His goal is to handle the cost of growth without continuing to raise property taxes by putting the burden on developers rather than his constituents.
“If the government doesn’t cut back its spending and doesn’t cut back the growth of government and its management policies, the tax hikes will probably continue,” warned state Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro) last month when News 2 asked him about his reaction to implementing impact fees.
However, Carr said impact fees have worked across Middle Tennessee.
“I would like to offer an alternative to the idea or argument that development taxes or impact fees are somehow not an attractive conservative solution to providing affordable housing, because here’s what happens in Rutherford County, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and La Vergne and Eagleville are able to access impact fees and development taxes on new resident developments, thereby holding on to the existing affordable housing,” Carr explained.