The Oak Ridge City Council approved a budget with no property tax rate increase on Monday.
If the budget is adopted in a second and final vote next week, it will be the 10th year in a row without a tax rate increase in Oak Ridge.
The Council had been asked to consider a four-cent increase in the property tax rate in order to fund a 2.5 percent pay raise for Oak Ridge Schools teachers and staff. That increase would have pushed the city’s property tax rate to $2.56 per $100 of assessed value. But that request was denied.
Instead, Council voted 4-2 to keep the tax rate at $2.52.
But Council did agree, in another 4-2 vote, to give the schools about $538,000 in additional funding that the city agreed to provide on a recurring basis. That means the city will have to continue to provide that extra money in the funding that it transfers to Oak Ridge Schools each year as part of what is known as maintenance of effort. The city had also given the schools an additional $538,000 last year, but it was on a one-time basis for a digital device initiative that includes convertible laptops for students, among other expenses.
This year, members of the Oak Ridge Board of Education sought to make that $538,000 a recurring part of the school system’s funding, and they wanted to add another $318,000—or about $856,000 total—for the 2.5 percent pay raise for teachers and staff. Council members approved the first part of that request (the recurring $538,000), but not the second (the extra $318,000). [Read more…]