Robertson Property Tax Hike, What Will You Pay, And A Budget Overview

Robertson Property Tax Hike, What Will You Pay, And A Budget Overview

Robertson Property Tax Hike, What Will You Pay, And A Budget Overview

After some considerable back-and-forth negotiations, and months of work by the Robertsonson County Budget Committee, last Monday, the Robertson County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the 2024 fiscal year budget. The budget addresses employee retention, inflation, and property tax rates. See links to the Commission meeting videos and the full budget below.

Employee Pay Rate Increases: 

One of the central focuses of this year’s budget was pay rate increases across various departments. The Sheriff’s Department, EMS, and office personnel are all set to benefit from these adjustments. The rationale behind these increases lies in the county’s determination to retain skilled and dedicated employees within these crucial departments, particularly the Sheriff and EMS teams by offering more competitive compensation. The county aims to retain experienced professionals who play a vital role in maintaining public safety and efficient administrative functions.

Smokey Barn News has watched as departments across Robertson County as well as the county’s 11 municipalities struggle to recruit and retain good people. Law enforcement and EMS is an area heavily affected by the economy, inflation, and the post-COVID landscape. The financial latitude in this year’s budget will give departments the ability to recruit and retain top people.

Addressing Inflation and Property Tax Rates (What Will You Pay?)

After eight years without a property tax rate increase, the county was faced with a challenging decision due to the rising costs of goods and services fueled by inflation. To ensure the sustainability of essential services and the county’s development, the Budget Committee and County Commissioners took the bold step of revising property tax rates. The certified property tax rate increased from $1.6449 to $1.80 per $100 of assessed value.

To put this increase into perspective, consider a residential property appraised at $310,000. Under the new tax rate, this would result in approximately an additional $120 in property taxes per year.

It’s important to remember that everyone on the Board and the Budget Committee will be subject to the tax rate as the rest of us. There’s no get-get-out-of-tax-free card for them. One trip to the grocery store and it’s clear, food prices are up as our economy adjusts to the inflation gripping the US dollar. Robertson County Finance Director Jody Stewart has addressed this issue and the timing of the increase in our economy. For Jodys’ team, it was weeks of carving to put this budget together. Once the budget was completed it would get carved some more at the commission meeting. The final carving was to Robertson County’s debt service, the commission voted to carve 5 cents off of it. County Mayor Billy Vogle told Smokey Barn News that a 5-cent reduction could affect the county’s ability to borrow money for things like new schools in the future but he otherwise seemed pleased that the Commission was able to pass the budget.

Revenue Neutrality and Forward Thinking

Under state law, property tax reappraisals are required to be revenue-neutral, meaning that the tax rate should generate the same amount of property tax revenue as the previous year. Due to the increasing property values, this year’s certified rate dropped to $1.6449 from the previous year’s $2.5759. However, recognizing the county’s expanding demands and potential, the Commissioners decided to raise the tax rate to $1.80. This move is aimed at securing a stable revenue stream to cater to the county’s evolving needs and aspirations.

Support and Information for Citizens

For those seeking clarity on their property tax amounts, the County Assessor’s office can be reached at 615‐384‐4311. Additionally, property tax calculators available on the Robertson County website offer a user‐friendly way to understand one’s tax obligations. Notably, the county offers tax relief programs tailored to citizens with income limits. Those interested in learning more about these programs can contact the Trustee’s office at 615‐384‐4238.

“I want to begin by thanking the citizens who attended or emailed the commissioners about their concerns both against and in favor of increasing the tax rate, this feedback is invaluable,” said Budget Chairman Bobby Couts. “I also want to thank the budget committee for their faithful attendance and hard work to put this budget in place. This budget committee has made every effort to be transparent with the process of putting this budget together. We have encouraged our fellow commissioners to attend by announcing our meetings at the commission meetings as well as asking our Finance Director Jody Stewart to email the budget requests that we discussed each week. The goal has been to make sure that everyone, both newly elected as well as returning commissioners, had every opportunity to understand the process that guided our budget committee.

“The budget that was passed is truly a result of balancing the financial needs of our county while listening to the people footing the bill. I would like to note that one of the questions asked the night of the commission meeting was– ‘Why the budget committee would want to keep large reserves?’ The answer is twofold. One it is fiscally sound practice to have monies to take care of emergency situations such as a new roof for the county building at a cost of $662,097. There have been times when that kind of unanticipated emergency would have put our county in financial jeopardy. The other reason, as stated in our open hearing on the budget, is that our return on fund balances is currently 5.01% which means that for $10,000,000 in our reserve funds we will receive $500,000 annually. This is money that impacts the county budget in a positive way without costing the taxpayer. When we reduce our fund balances, we reduce a significant stream of revenue to our county coffers that would aid the county in funding our annual budget without impacting the taxpayer.

“The goal of our commission should be to achieve financial stability that enables us to fund our county without increasing the tax burden on the taxpayer. I believe that our commission has demonstrated that we will not raise taxes unless there is a need. This is evidenced by an 8‐year stretch without a tax rate increase. The idea that raising taxes without an overriding need is not something that I can agree with. The idea that with good stewardship and forward thinking we can use other means (such as the interest earned on the fund balances) to help fund our county government is one that I believe we should embrace as a county.”

Mayor Vogle expressed appreciation for citizens who participated in the public hearing and voiced their opinions. He acknowledged the difficulty of the decisions made but stressed the necessity of these actions for the county’s future. “We realized that we needed to try and do more to reduce the rate from the initially proposed tax rate of $1.87,” Vogle said. “The county’s leadership recognized the responsibility to ensure the well‐being and progress of a growing community.”

According to officials in Robertson County, the Fiscal Year 2024 budget reflects a careful balance between addressing critical needs and securing the county’s prosperous future. The strategic pay rate increases and property tax adjustments underscore the commitment to maintaining essential services and supporting ongoing growth. As the county evolves, these measures stand as a testament to its dedication to its citizens’ well‐being and a promising future.

To peruse the entire budget yourself–> CLICK HERE If you would like to watch the entire Commission meeting we have two video options for you. Click here to watch a recording of Smokey’s live feed. It will give you a good look around the meeting or you can watch the County’s recording which is static but has better audio. If you’re really tech-savvy, you can watch both simultaneously while running the county’s audio. If you have a comment you would like to share with the community, join in under this post on FB.

Mobile: To See The Latest Stories or to share this article, scroll below