In the ever-changing world of economic development, it is imperative that communities in East Tennessee recognize the paradigm shift that is happening nationally in regards to enhanced community character, retail, real estate, and economic changes. In an effort to foster change and growth all around our beautiful region, ETCompetes!—in conjunction with their partners East Tennessee Quality Growth, NAI, US Bank, and University of Tennessee School of Landscape Architecture—are sponsoring two workshops featuring nationally recognized speaker, Ed McMahon, Urban Land Institute senior resident fellow.
McMahon spent 14 years as the vice president and director of land use planning for the Conservation Fund in Arlington, Va., where he helped protect more than five million acres of land that has historic or natural significance. McMahon is also the cofounder and former president of Scenic America, a national nonprofit organization devoted to protecting America’s scenic landscapes. [Read more…]
This month, the Oak Ridge City Council will establish your property tax rate for 2014 via the approval of our annual city budget. And though it appears that taxes will remain flat, our excessive spending levels are unsustainable and continue to hinder our ability to compete with surrounding communities.
In spite of all the new developments happening as of late, if council approves the budget as proposed, residents and businesses will continue to feel the financial crunch for quite some time. Not only will we retain one of the highest property tax rates in the state, but we’ll also retain one of the largest per capita debt levels in the region. (At nearly $7,000 per person, we have more than four times that of Knox County residents and more than seven times that of Knoxville residents). A dozen more chicken places and grocery store relocations won’t make a dent in the average Oak Ridger’s bills.
If we are to make any kind of progress, we need a strategy that aims to increase revenue while reducing expenditures. This column will focus on increasing our revenue base. I will address budgetary inefficiencies and waste in a follow-up piece next week. [Read more…]