Note: This is a copy of a letter sent to Oak Ridge City Council members by resident Martin McBride.
I came to East Tennessee 25 years ago to work with Oak Ridge nuclear facilities. One of the first things my new employer did was to set up an appointment with a Farragut Realtor. The realtor gave my wife and I a lovely tour of the west Knox County area.
When I hesitantly mentioned Oak Ridge, he quickly responded, “You realize the property tax problems over there?” For the next several minutes, the realtor went over the tax rates, emphasizing the tax advantage of living in Farragut.
He then compared the Farragut lifestyle to that of Oak Ridge. Amazingly, Farragut kept getting the edge. According to that realtor, Farragut had all the advantages—especially in tax rates.
Like it or not, the pressure on new Oak Ridge workers to locate outside Oak Ridge is intense. Many probably do not even talk to an Oak Ridge realtor for the other side of the story.
I almost didn’t.
Oak Ridge is a beautiful place to live. It has wonderful activities, a great school system, and an awesome heritage. Yet, our competition hammers us on tax rates. And that tactic has worked over the years.
In the past few decades, Oak Ridge paychecks have migrated elsewhere.
This year, you can make a real difference by passing a property tax reduction. Even a small reduction would be a significant publicity coup for the city. And if an Oak Ridge reduction were combined with the proposed Anderson County tax reduction, the positive effect would be even greater.
Please reduce Oak Ridge tax rates and give our community a chance to effectively develop and compete.