Roane Residents Split on Property Tax Hike


Kingston, Roane County (WVLT) - Roane Countians are bracing for lay-offs and cuts in county services.

But county commission has a plan that would keep jobs and services in place.

However, that plan hinges on a proposed property tax increase.

Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman headed to Roane County to find out what the folks there saying.

Residents, including the county executive, aren't crazy about the idea of a tax increase.

But they don't want lay-offs and cuts either.

Locals at Handee Burger are already thinking how a tax hike will hit them.

"It's gonna cost me. I've got property in east Roane County. I've got property here in the city,” says Rickey Russell.

But without a property tax increase, it may cost some county jobs and cut backs in vital services like ambulance.

"I don't think that's a wise move to lay that type of service off. There's other ways to cut back,” says Lisa Russell.

"The main thing is just to be able to fund general services and that is your sheriff's department, your road department and ambulance service,” explains Commissioner Mike Hooks.

The general fund is where almost half the tax increase is headed. Eight cents goes to the new jail. The road department picks up three-cents and the ambulance service gets a couple of cents.

This marks the first time the county has ever had to put pennies into the ambulance fund.

"And it would help everybody. I have no problem with the tax increase,” says Lisa Russell.

Roane County's last property tax increase was in 2003. And the cost of county business has gone up quite a bit since.

"Price of everything has gone up every year,” says Commissioner Hooks. “Price of gas which drives the factor of everything."

There is some upside. The original proposed property tax increase was 44-cents. But it's been whittled down to the 25-cents, that comes up for a vote on Monday.

"We feel like if we try to cut it any further, we'll have to cut services, and that's something that we don't want to do. So we ask that the people support us in this,” Hooks says.

There'll be a public hearing on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. in the Qualls Commission Room in the Roane County Courthouse.

The actual vote on the property tax increase is set for Monday at 7:00 p.m.

If the tax hike passes, it will end three straight years without an increase.


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