Maury County officials say their population boom can’t pay for all the new growth, at least not at first, and now they must decide if a sales tax or a property tax is the best way to get more money.
As The Tennessee Star reported, County Mayor Andy Ogles said he’d veto any property tax increase to pay for new growth.
Ogles says Maury is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, if not the nation.
He instead suggested a sales tax referendum next year.
County Commissioner Don Morrow told The Star this week that it’s rare to see people vote themselves a tax increase.
“However, I feel that the sales tax is fair because it spreads that tax out over everyone that spends money in the county, and it even helps our county with people who are spending money in our county from other counties,” Morrow said.
“Currently we have a lot of people coming in to Columbia to shop and spend money on our square in various places.”
But Morrow also said the growth cannot pay for itself.
“If I can use the analogy of opening a business then you rent your building. You have to stock your shelves and get your advertising in place and you hope people come in and spend some money so you get some revenue. It’s the same way with the county,” Morrow said.
“People are coming in and building homes and spending money, but it takes a while to get that on the tax rolls. It takes us a while to catch up. So, when they get here, and start paying taxes then we can try to recoup some of our investment, but a lot of times you have to spend money on the front end to get it back on the back end.”
County Commissioner Eric Previti, meanwhile, said the county’s budget needs more money because of unfunded mandates from the state.
As reported, county commissioners are currently debating whether to raise property taxes by as much as 45 cents — or $120 per $100,000 in the value of a home.
Ogles also told The Star he’s working with state officials so Maury County can eventually impose impact fees on new construction — as another revenue source. He said the state’s 2006 County Powers Act restricts his county’s ability to implement impact fees. Under the law, counties that had impact fees prior to 2006 may still use them, Ogles said.
County Commissioner Craig Harris said he and his colleagues must finalize a budget by next month, otherwise the county will revert to the last fiscal year budget. Last year’s fiscal budget would not fund two new public schools that are already underway, Harris said.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Andy Ogles” by Andy Ogles. Background Photo by Andy Ogles.