Proposed property tax increase fails in Lincoln County, TN

WAFF 48's Romario Gardner reporting
Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 12:17 AM CDT

LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. (WAFF) - After months of discussion and debate, county leaders decided during Tuesday night’s commissioner meeting to not raise property taxes by 54%.

“This is what I wanted to hear,” said Bill Shelton, who was joined by over a hundred people who packed the Lincoln County Courthouse in anticipation of the results.

“The commissioner stepped up and listened to the people in their districts,” said Shelton. “And voted what the people in their districts told them.”

The increase would’ve raised property taxes by $1.10 from $2.10 to $3.20. In an 18-6 vote, the proposal failed.

Budget Committee Chair Doug Cunningham argued such a proposal came as a necessity.

“If we cannot pass a significant increase tonight we’re going to have to make serious cuts to our general funds side of the budget. This is the courthouse, this is the jail, the election committee.”

The money from the property tax increase could have been used by the school district to make improvements to the Highland Rim School and build a new school behind the current campus.

Mayor Bill Newman said the County is currently in a $3 million dollar deficit. He said the proposed tax increase would’ve generated $7 million dollars. But he believes the commissioners made the right choice.

“Most people, as you probably know that expressed an opinion here, were against that tax increase. So I think the commissioners made a good decision. They’re sending back the budget. Let’s make some suggestions on how to decrease that and bring it back to the full commission.”

The mayor said the budget would have also accounted for a 5% raise for all county employees.

The budget will now go back to the budget committee and members will look for places to make necessary cuts.

Mayor Newman said the Highland Rim projects will most likely be tabled for the foreseeable future.

A final budget needs to be approved by the end of September.

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