Morristown (WVLT) - Morristown's homeowners are one step closer to paying the largest property tax hike in city history. Tuesday night, city council approved the first reading of the proposed 40-cent hike by just one vote.
The home's aren't any different, but since Tuesday morning they're one step closer to being more expensive.
"We're not taking it lightly be any stretch of the imagination," Sami Barile says.
By a four-to-three vote, Morristown City council approved the first reading of a 40-cent property tax hike. The biggest in city history.
"It's a budget problem that's come about because of some changes in our sales tax economy," Jim Crumley says.
That budget problem could bump up the property tax from 97-cents to $1.37...so what changed?
"We know we lost one building materials supplier leaving town it left a quarter million dollar gap in our sales tax," Crumley says.
And officials say the tax wouldn't just solve issues for this year...
"But for at least the next three years," Barile says.
And she says property taxes would stay the same for those three years. Without money...
"We would have a number of capital things that wouldn't happen. We wouldn't be able to buy any police cars. We're looking at police officers that are needed," Barile continues.
But some council members say it's too much too fast.
"I could've understood it coming out, taking effect in January of 08 budget. But people need to plan for that big of an increase," Rick Trent says.
Rick Trent voted against the hike. He says the pricey tax is primarily political.
"It's easier to pass a big one at one time, then for political reasons, elections, not to pass it every year. For me, I'd rather do a little bit every year," Trent continues.
All the Morristown homeowners we talked to just want to know...
"Why, they're wasting money," Joyce Rickard says.
Joyce Rickard says she feels betrayed by council.
"I think it's very unfair. They said they weren't going to raise property taxes," Joyce Rickard says.
But Mayor Barile says the tax now could mean avoiding more serious budget problems in the future.
Council's scheduled to hold a special meeting next Tuesday at noon for a second reading, and the public's welcome to come.