Mon
Nov 26 2007
09:19:am
By: commissionerwalker  shortURL

Property Tax Freeze -

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and that you are preparing for a Merry Christmas.

The Property Tax Freeze that is on the Commission agenda for the December meeting of the County Commission. What's your opinion? $32,100 maximum income, which is equal to 40 hours a week at just over $14.00/hr before taxes.

Should the Commission use this method to offer a break to those who are eligible or should the commission looking at subsidising the current tax break program that is in place?

Thanks!

Should the Commission use

Should the Commission use this method to offer a break to those who are eligible or should the commission looking at subsidising the current tax break program that is in place?

It should be noted, I believe the proposed tax break is for "seniors". Not sure of the definition of seniors, maybe 65 and older.

I am not aware of the "current" tax break program already in place. Until I have knowledge of this program it would be hard to have an opinion.

hard questions

While I would love to jump up and scream YES, freeze the tax rate for the elderly, I can't do that quite yet because I need more info.

For instance- I am thinking a young family who lives on $14.00 an hour pays more in payroll taxes than a retired person/couple, thus their purchasing power for everything from housing to food and clothing is vastly less than a retiree making the same income. Can someone explain to me if this is true or not?

And what does this mean? All the info can be found here (link...)

(8) “Owner” means a person who has a present possessory interest in property which is the subject of a tax freeze application. The owner may possess the property as fee owner or the holder of a life estate. For purposes of the income requirement, “owner” includes persons with non-possessory interests, including remainder interests, if these persons use the property as their principal residence at any time during the year.
.

I do not support

the property tax freeze. Thanks for asking.

Tax Freeze

Concerned Citizen
I find it hard to believe we are having a disscussion on this subject since it was voted upon and approved my a major majority of the citizens of this state.
These senior citizens with that has to live on the limited income of $32,100, most not only pay for their property taxes, state and federal taxes, but they also have to provide thier own health insurance, and their own medical cost. Even if they are on Medicare, which is detucted from thier Social Security,they must also pay the cost of thier coverage for prescription drugs and Medicare Part B, which is not covered by Medicare part A.
Most of the young family's that Melo mentions is coverd by a company sponsored insurance plan, and therefore does not incure these same additional drains on their income.
One inportant thing to remember is that the county will not be eliminating these senior citizens from the property tax roll, but only freezing thier taxes at the current rate. It is my understanding that even at this current rate thier taxes would increase based upon any new appraisal of thier property.Therefore I am under the opinion that the few senior citizens who are living on this limited amount of income deserve this break.
In closing, let me state that most of these senior citizens are the ones who have served thier country in the military. Remember they were raised during the mandatory draft era, and at a time when it was an honor to be able to serve this country.

The bottom line is pretty

The bottom line is pretty simple. We all want to do something more for our seniors. In this case, we are looking at a new tax break for those who make more than the 20K limit of the prior property tax break and extending it to those who make up to 32K.

Screw it. Do it. Hire four new people to run this program. If it does not work, the commission has the option to stop offering this tax break in 2009.

We won't really know unless we try it and it is worth a try. There is a retired marine who has more courage than our elected emperor. He willingly stands before the commission to ask about missing cars and talks of his service to our county. For him, yeah, I want you all to pass this and give it a try.

Could someone please tell me this man's name. I know I am going to spell it incorrectly and he deserves far better.

Mello the gentleman's name is

Ron McTighe is the retired marine that spoke at the meeting.

Thanks

I kept wanting to put a "Q" in his name and I knew that was not right.

So, here's to you Mr. Ron McTighe! Thank you for standing up and being counted! Thank you for your service- past and present.

I highly doubt this man and I have ever voted for the same candidates, but I know that now, on a local level we will. Take a note on this BC Party Chairs. Change is in the wind.

Freeze or Shift

While the individuals who are found to be eligible will have their taxes frozen, truly the expense will be shifted. That is unless the County votes to cut funding in areas where it can be done.

Where is the most likely areas funding would/could be decreased?

loaded question!

Yikes! First, let's pull all those disbursements that appear on the Nov CC meeting package. Then let's look at each and every single one of them so we all know who got what and why. That would be a great start- simply asking specific questions and not just blindly approving the whole month's expenses. What do they buy with those P-Cards anyways?

P-Cards

What do they buy with those P-Cards anyways?

I curious about those also. How many are out there? Who has them - who needs them?

Does the Circuit Court Clerk's office have one (or more)? Wouldn't you want to purchase things like computer scanners with a card so it would be easier to track?

Funding

Commissioner,
While several officeholders seem to have the attitude "do more with less", others have exhibited one of "take my toys and go home". While Scott Graves and Roy Crawford continue to be good stewards of our dollars by providing excellent services at excellent values, Sheriff Berrong continues a pattern of wanting more, more, more while utilizing Orwellian tactics to obtain it. Remember the SRO fiasco? Remember vague threats of lawsuits this year?
A few years ago, Berrong purchased a limited edition Mercury Maurauder complete with all leather seats and power options. The purchasing department refused to issue a p.o. for such an exhuberant vehicle, so the drug fund was utilized. A Ford Expedition for the Sheriff's use was also purchased and has been upgraded since. Now how many persons making $32,100 / year can afford this? Not many, unless as in the case of Sheriff Berrong they are paid for by the public, or as they used to be called, "welfare cadillacs". Most folks making $14.00 / hour couldn't afford the gas for these vehicles. But Sheriff Berrong and those who drive unmarked vehicles do not purchase gas, it is provided by us. They use these vehicles for personal reasons as much as for official business. Remember the wreck in Sevier County a few years ago? The county vehicle was a total loss. The employee was driving it back and forth from his second job as an entertainer in Sevier County!
I wonder how many $14.00 / hr families can afford college tuition? Remember Tom Hatcher and the bogus degree purchased with county funding? Yes, Tom did the right thing in the end an repaid the monies, but what about the several (up to six maybe) Sheriff employees who got those same tuition reimbursements for the same school, have those monies been repaid?
Throughout the history of BCSO, new recruits were sent to Donaldson for basic police academy training. Later, Walter's State and even Knox County began offering training academies that were taken advantage of by our Sheriff's Office. They were available at reasonable costs and provided excellent training. Now, Sheriff Berrong has continued to build his empire by starting his own training academy. How is this cost effective? How many $32,100.00 families can afford private schools? Not many, unless they are paid for by our monies. Check my statements. They are factual and public record. It's there for all to see who care enough to take the time to look. These are but a few examples.
It's ironic that most of the employees championed by Berrong fall into this income bracket. Priorities are misplaced, personal agendas attended to and empires built. It's time to stand up commissioner Walker. Stop "playing the game" and tolerating political pressure. Ask Questions, Seek facts and demand accoutability for every penny appropriated. Refuse to increase funding where you find waste, cut and freeze it. I think then we can afford the property tax freeze without increasing the burden significantly on the rest of our citizens.

To serve themselves and protect themselves

Crotser, Aldridge, Trexler and Stone - Burning down an abandoned already half-way burned down house is not news. This is news;

I wonder how many $14.00 / hr families can afford college tuition? Remember Tom Hatcher and the bogus degree purchased with county funding? Yes, Tom did the right thing in the end an repaid the monies, but what about the several (up to six maybe) Sheriff employees who got those same tuition reimbursements for the same school, have those monies been repaid?

Looks like some members of the BCSO would do anything to gain more praise and more money - even LIE and BREAK THE LAW. Peto verum, can you tell us how to find this information on our own since The Daily Times and Blount Today seem uninterested in telling the story?

the hunt

DG,
I'll be glad to. Go to the accounting department at the courthouse and ask to review expenditure subleger data for the sheriff's office for 2004 and 2005, specifically object 500356 or "tuition". There you will see many disbursements, some directly to institutions and schools, some to individual employees. Pull the disbursements for individual employees and ask to review the reimbursement request forms completed by those individuals. (sorry, but I won't name names here, you'll just have to look up all of them). This is where the paper trail ends, with dates, amounts, gpa's and names of institutions attended as well as signatures of the requesting and approving individuals.
Good luck and good hunting!

Upgrades by who?

A Ford Expedition for the Sheriff's use was also purchased and has been upgraded since. Now how many persons making $32,100 / year can afford this?

You think Neil Sandler did this work? I guess we'll never know because they don't keep an inventory of the cars the sheriff sends their way. (link...)

I voted for the freeze.

I voted for the freeze. Arguments about having to raise property taxes to offset it are valid. But at least seniors would still get a little relief once they qualify. It won't kill the rest of us to pay a little more for that.

On the other hand, I guess some would argue that eventual seniors will have to pay higher property taxes until they qualify. But as has been noted, they would be in a better position to pay it before they retire and more likely to benefit from it after they retire.

I don't know the demographics of Blount Co. break down as far as how much of an impact it would have. I seem to recall a number being thrown out in the newspaper as to how much taxes would have to be raised, but I don't recall there being any details of how it was arrived at and it sounded more like a scare tactic than a legitimate argument. I presume somebody has done an actual analysis based on facts and stuff, right? What does it say?

As for it benefiting the "Greatest Generation", I agree they deserve it, but it would affect future generations, too, unless it's repealed. So that's not necessarily relevant.

P.S. Disabled vets pay NO property taxes in Tennessee. That seems like a fair deal to me.

Fair?

P.S. Disabled vets pay NO property taxes in Tennessee. That seems like a fair deal to me.

R, I hope you would take another moment to adjust your scales of fairness. I know a vet with no legs who would pay his, my and your taxes to have them back.

Come on. I can't believe you

Come on. I can't believe you really think this way. Most everyone, including R., knows being a disabled vet is no fair deal. It is a fair deal to not require them to pay property taxes in the State of Tennessee.

Fair enough. I'll chalk it

Fair enough. I'll chalk it up to bad wording.

Yes, FA, good point. That

Yes, FA, good point. That didn't come out right.

tax freeze

Concerned Citizen
I again find it very interesting that the County Commission is addressing a loss of revenue from the freeze of property taxes upon a limited amount of senior citizens that this would apply too. After all this is mostly the same commission that has refused to apply any type of development tax upon the developers and builders in this county, which would lower the tax burden, not only on the senior citizens, but every citizen of the county.
After all the citizens of this county has addressed a need for this tax since the meetings leading up to the 1999 County Policies Plan. They have addressed a need for this tax to relieve the tax burden imposed by new developments for the cost of schools, roads, and additional infrastructure; such as police, EMS service,etc.

I too voted for the tax

I too voted for the tax freeze option. There is much more information to know to make a final decision.

Just a few random, not exact numbers:

*** These are just back of the envelope calculations. I am sure the Blount County government has all the exact information. ***

There are approx. 17,000 Blount County residents age 65 and older.

Approx. 3,500 of them live alone and own their own home.

Estimating of the remainder there are 5,000 additional homeowners 65 and older.

Thus, there are an estimated 8,500 homeowners in Blount County aged 65 and older.

The medium price for a house in Blount County is $137,400.

Approx. Blount County property taxes on $137,400 is $900.

There are 34,494 owner occupied homes in Blount County.

$900 times 34,494 = $31,044,600 in estimated property taxes.

The last property tax increase in Blount County was approx. 9%.
9% of $900 = $81.

Thus, it is being proposed to freeze the next property tax increase for approx. 8,500 homeowners. ($81 times 8,500 = $688,500 taxes uncollected)

Therefore, the remaining 25,994 homeowners (under age 65) would have to make up the difference. That would add approximately $26 to the annual tax bill for these 25,994 homeowners ($688,500 divided by 25,994).

However, keep in mind the "freeze" would only be for homeowners that have a maximum income of $32,100. Therefore, the frozen tax amount could be even less. The maximum income requirement includes income from social security, retirement funds, investment interest, veterans benefits, payroll, etc. (just about any type of income).

*** These are just back of the envelope calculations. I am sure the Blount County government has all the exact information. ***

The last property tax

The last property tax increase in Blount County was approx. 9%.

And actually, wasn't most or all of that because of reappraisals?

(P.S. Thanks for crunching all those numbers. Where is the official analysis? Also, Wendy Pitts Reeves has a great roundup of info on the exemption here.)

Ads are killing us

I'm all for giving seniors a break. But for those who think citizens should bear the total cost, please remember who the real culprit is; (link...) Health care spending in the United States has increased by $621 billion since 2000. I know what site I'm on, but remember it was President Clinton who deregulated drug advertising. (link...)

Maybe concerned commissioners could have a symposium to show seniors how they can get their drugs cheaper in Canada. The attention may bring attention to the plight of our seniors.

We are in the shape we are in because of our ignorance or we are to drugged to care. We have problems (and responsibilities) in BC - but our real problem is DC and their lobbyist blood money.

Federal versus County Level

"it was President Clinton who deregulated drug advertising"

Some folks say, that Pres. Clinton was the most palatable Democrat that K-Street would allow ascension. Looking back over the past decade of Privatizing everything, I begin to believe this theory. It's no longer a question of Dem vs. Rep. More divisive is Public vs. Private ownership of resources and services.

"We have problems (and responsibilities) in BC - but our real problem is DC and their lobbyist blood money"

Aye, but we CAN make a difference Federally, at the local level. Don't fergit that we have Lame Alexander and Jimmy Duncan from these very environs. Both have strong power in DC, and their ears can be bent. Locally, if we can get the County to enforce extra tax penalties against buying vehicles that get less than 25 mpg, and against leaving Security Lights on all night long. Give tax breaks or incentives for homeowners to purchase Photovoltaics, Wind Turbines, Bio-Diesel stills, etc. Apply a wheel tax to pay for a new form of County-run & Operated Mass Transit system. Then our County will set an example that surrounding ones would be jealous of, and send a loud message to DC, that Blount County WILL be the fuse to get real change started.
viva Evo Morales

You are dreaming!

if we can get the County to enforce extra tax penalties against buying vehicles that get less than 25 mpg

Not that dreaming is bad, but you're talking about a county that provided SUVs for both Dave Bennett and Mayor Beverley Woodruff during her tenure (and don't forget the Mayor makes over $100K and can surely drive to work in a private vehicle like the rest of us). And this was at a time when we were struggling to bring Air Quality up to snuff.

For all I know, Bennett and Cunningham may still have such vehicles. It is the Sheriff who handles the distribution of cars among county officials. Weird, huh?

Apparently, they all come from Neill Sandler Ford -- I don't think there's even a bid process. Now if NS Ford could come through with some hybrids for county officials...

Social Odium

Embarrassment forces change. There is a growing Social Odium about Huge Gas Guzzlers. I've seen the looks folks get at traffic lights, when they pull up with their single-occupied, Double-Cab, dueling wheeled macho trucks--the Odium is real and growing. And I'm talking about taxing NEW vehicle purchases, folks with pre-2001 gas guzzlers were ignorant (like myself) of the implications, and shouldn't be scolded for such. We HAVE to clean up Blount County's Air quality--our Rain Cycle depends on it. We can't just pray our problems away--we ARE stewards of the creation, and should act that way. The days of seeing your neighbor's new truck being bigger than yours, and rushing out to get a bigger one; are over--I hope. We can't develop our County properly, if our leaders are still into the Muscle Car 1950's mindset. We HAVE to tackle the Electricity problem as well. Bottom Line: If we keep puking the Atmosphere here, the streams and rivers will disappear, and for some reason folks don't live where there's no water.

viva Evo Morales

New AG Opinion on this very subject

(link...) click on OPO 156

1. Yes. The language of Article II, Section 28, indicates that any tax relief provided to the elderly by the Legislature may also be provided to home owners who are totally and permanently disabled, irrespective of age.

2. Yes. Any tax freeze program authorized for disabled homeowners must be the same as the tax freeze program provided for the elderly.

WOW! That sounds rather Progressive to me.

This part is interesting- Stated another way, the original tax relief program authorized by the Constitution was one provided by the Legislature itself through reimbursement to the local governments, while the more recent tax relief program described in the Constitution is one that is authorized by the Legislature, but actually provided by the local governments.

Could this mean the state pays the county for those disabled veterans' reduced tax bills? Again- very Progressive thing to do, eh?

And what about city taxes?

Have any of the cities weighed in on how they feel about this and what it will do or not do to their budgets?

If those who live in Alcoa and pay both Alcoa and Blount county taxes had their taxes frozen then it seems like in some way those who live and pay city taxes would see a double percentage of the relief. After all, they do pay double the taxes like all city folks.

I am not saying this is a bad thing. I am just trying to figure out how it will effect those living in the cities because the language says

The Act allows the legislative body of any county or municipality to adopt a property tax freeze program under the provisions of the Act.

the answer is... yes

(link...)

City and county governments decide whether to implement the tax-freeze program.

snip

County Mayor Carolyn Bowers sent the council a letter last week asking that the freeze be based on 2008 rates to match county plans.

Now I will ask, have the cities done anything about this or not?

Counties....Cities

If the County adopts only the county portion is frozen. The Cities would have to adopt also for the City portion to be frozen, or atleast that what CTAS told at the recent show and tell.

right.

It seems like other counties are having a problem with the logistics of having only the city or only the county offer the tax freeze. Simply, it seems like it would sure be easier for everyone if all did offer the same great benefit. That does not seem likely this late in the year.

Tax Freeze -Moderating comments

Concerned Citizen
I find this notice that is posted on Commissioner Walkers web-site interesting;
"Due to happenings on related blogs about the Blount County, Tennessee area I have once again turned on the moderating comments option for this site. I know there will be those who maybe upset, but if the comments are clean in language and directed at the subject being discussed they will be posted."
I posted the following message upon his site several days ago, but it was not posted.

"I again find it very interesting that the County Commission is addressing a loss of revenue from the freeze of property taxes upon a limited amount of senior citizens that this would apply too. After all this is mostly the same commission that has refused to apply any type of development tax upon the developers and builders in this county, which would lower the tax burden, not only on the senior citizens, but every citizen of the county.
After all the citizens of this county has addressed a need for this tax since the meetings leading up to the 1999 County Policies Plan. They have addressed a need for this tax to relieve the tax burden imposed by new developments for the cost of schools, roads, and additional infrastructure; such as police, EMS service,etc."
Do you believe that he finds my comments offense? Or maybe not worthy of being posted upon his site.
Note: this is the same comments that I posted upon this current web site.

not you, me :-)

Blame me. I did it. CC Walker knows what I posted and caused a bit of problem for myself.

Tax Frieze

Trying to understand more of the problem. If the Senior Citizens property taxes are frozen, how does that help the Senior Citizens with few assets as oppossed to the Senior Citizens with Major Assets? If the County's infrastructure depends wholey on Property Tax revenue, from its Citizenry; is the majority of Blount County in the retired (over 67) or employed (under 67) Bracket? Wouldn't those percentages determine the viability of such a freeze?

viva Evo Morales

trying to understand

this could be one of the many factors, the other is the value of the property being frozen, is it a $75,000 home and lot or is it a $1.5 million dollar home and lot? Both owners could possibly show a income of under $32,100/yr.

There are many other factors that really should be considered. I'm still digging...after, would it be a conflict if a majority of my relatives are ellible and I vote for it? (food for thought)

I think it's highly unlikely

I think it's highly unlikely that millionaires will have income < $32K, but I suppose it's possible. 5% CD interest on $1 million is $50K.

I would also imagine that someone in a $1.5 million house would have income sufficient to pay the $15K or so property taxes (if they are in the city), insurance, utilities, upkeep, etc.

But, if indeed their income was under $32K, then I guess they would qualify. How many people do you realistically think that would be, though?

As for a conflict, which is a good question, I don't see any conflict. It's a benefit for anyone who qualifies, regardless of whether they are related to a public official. Plus, presumably every commissioner who owns a home hopes to live to be a senior, so just about everyone would have a conflict by that standard.

time to put an end to out of control spending

We have lived here a little over 8 yrs. In 8 yrs time, there has been only one year where our property taxes did not go up.

There should be a freeze IN ALL PROPERTY TAX RAISES. I have to live on a budget, most people I know have to live on a budget-why is it our county cannot live on a reasonable budget?

We have lived all over the place-I have never, ever seen a county government run so poorly and so rife with corruption. Yet the citizens continue to put the same buffoons into office.

As someone not a native(oh crap, that means we moved here and took a job from a native Blount countian-would that make us an enemy to Cunningham?), I just sit in wonder at all the nonsense that goes on in the county government here. I wonder if people here realize how ridiculous they look to "outsiders"?

It is time for a revolution.

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