Public forum to focus on tax rate

Published 10:51 pm Friday, October 3, 2008

FRANKLIN—The City Council wants input from citizens before setting the fiscal 2009 property tax rate.

A public forum is set for 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall.

The council adopted the city’s fiscal 2009 budget in July but had to wait for final results of a biannual property reassessment before setting the tax rate.

An outside appraiser hired by the city to conduct the assessment initially valued land, homes and commercial buildings at 18 percent higher than in 2006, not including new construction or improvements to property.

After appeals by property owners to the appraiser and to the city’s Board of Equalization, the increase in assessed valuation dipped slightly to 16.78 percent.

According to an advertisement published Sept. 26 in The Tidewater News, the city proposes to set a tax rate of 85 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Though lower than the current rate of 90 cents, the proposed tax rate would bring the city 10.39 percent more in property taxes next year. A rate of 77 cents would bring the same amount of money as last year.

First-term Ward 1 Councilman Barry Cheatham, who ran last spring on a platform of more fiscal discipline in city government, said Friday that the 85-cent rate is “not a done deal.”

“That’s why we’re having the (Monday) meeting,” he said. “When we ran for office, we wanted to keep everything out in the open and above board, to let the people be part of the process. Let’s talk about it, get everything out on the table and go from there.”

The council plans to adopt a tax rate at its Oct. 27 meeting. By law, it could have held a mandatory public hearing on the tax rate the same night.

Cheatham said Monday’s meeting will allow council members to consider citizen feedback before making a decision.