The Crossville City Council voted Tuesday night to raise property taxes five cents in a first reading of the ’20-’21 budget.
The property tax rate would increase to 64.05 cents per $100 of assessed value. Without a tax increase, the city would need more than $200,000 from its rainy day fund.
“You can always go back next year and roll it back, but if you don’t do it, you’re out of luck,” Crossville City Manager Greg Wood said. “You can’t go back and say ‘oops, we’re a shortfall.'”
Wood said he remains worried about a second COVID-19 outbreak in the fall. He said he has more drastic plans available to reduce the budget further should that happen.
Council members spent more than an hour in a work session discussing the budget. Several council members said they hoped the budget numbers could be further refined by staff in the coming days, potentially reducing expenses. The budget will be addressed again in second and third readings by the council. Wood said the tax rate could be adjusted in those readings.
“I’d rather go through a first reading and put a five cent increase in there rather do the reverse,” Council Member Scott Shanks said. “I would hate to say there’s no tax increase and then on the last reading we go to a five cent increase.”
Crossville officials are projecting a roughly 10 percent decrease in sales tax revenue in the new fiscal year. That’s about $700,000 in revenue.
Several council members expressed concern about a tax increase during the COVID-19 outbreak. But Shanks said the city needs the increase. Wood said he worried about the compounding impact with the city not increasing the tax rates where leaders might be forced to make a 25 or 50 cent increase later.