Note: This story was updated at 8:51 a.m.
It’s still not clear how property reappraisals in Roane County will affect the Oak Ridge property tax rate, so the City Council on Monday deferred a vote on the budget until Monday, June 15.
Council had been scheduled to consider the budget in the first of two readings on Monday (June 8). Council was expected to consider the budget on second and final reading on June 15.
But the five-year property reappraisals in Roane County are not yet complete, and it’s not clear when they will be. Officials said property assessments there are likely to go down as they have in Anderson County, where they’ve fallen 4 percent.
An overall drop in property values could require an increase in the tax rate because the revenues after the reappraisals have to remain the same as they were before.
The state has become involved in completing the Roane County reappraisals.
It’s not clear if there has ever been an issue completing the reappraisals on time in Anderson or Roane counties. Most of Oak Ridge is in Anderson County, but the western portion is in Roane.
Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said property values have never gone down in an reappraisal.
“We’re in uncharted waters here,” Gooch said.
He made the motion to defer the budget vote for one week.
“I am very reluctant to take final action on a budget until we know exactly what we’re dealing with in terms of revenue,” Gooch said.
A few City Council members supported an in-depth or line-by-line review of the budget, so Council scheduled a work session from 5-7 p.m. Monday, June 15. The City Council meeting will follow the work session and start at 7 p.m.
The budget proposed by the Oak Ridge city staff last week includes a one-cent increase in the property tax rate. It would help maintain city services and allow for a 2 percent pay raise for city employees. City officials said there has been, roughly, a $700,000 reduction from last year’s budget in sales tax revenues from Roane County, primarily at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Meanwhile, the budget proposed by Oak Ridge Schools asks for the equivalent of a seven-cent tax increase. It would help cover a deficit and add money for salaries and staff, including a 3 percent pay raise. That budget has already been approved by the Oak Ridge Board of Education.
The two requests total eight cents. Each additional cent on the property tax rate generates about another $90,000 in revenue. A one-cent increase would cost the owner of a $145,000 house another $3.63 per year. An eight-cent increase could cost that homeowner another $29 per year.
If Council isn’t able to pass a budget by June 30 because of the Roane reappraisals, the city would continue to operate under current appropriations and the current property tax rate, which is $2.39 per $100 of assessed value.
The new fiscal year starts July 1.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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