The Van Buren County Commission passed a balanced budget with a 45-cent property tax increase Monday night.
The Commission voted 9-1 to pass the budget and set the new rate at $2.76. Budget Committee Chairman William Maxwell said he felt the Commission made the right decision to raise revenues.
“I think we did the right thing tonight,” Maxwell said. “I think passing the budget with a tax increase was the appropriate thing. Nobody likes a tax increase, but sometimes it is what has to be done to continue services for the county.
Commissioner Bill Mosley was the only no vote.
Van Buren County was facing a significant budget shortfall heading into the 2020-2021 budget process. The county’s Budget Committee worked with the state Comptroller’s Office to make significant cuts. The county made over $500,000 worth of budget cuts, including laying off 10 employees.
Maxwell said the majority of his constituents he talked to supported the property tax increase.
“I did speak to a few that were against it,” Maxwell said. “But most of the people who did reach out to me from my district said we don’t want to see services decreased.”
Van Buren County Mayor Greg Wilson said even with the tax increase, the county still has one of the lower rates in Tennessee. He said the increased revenue is necessary to overcome added expenditures.
“It’s only the second time since I’ve been mayor in six years that we’ve had to do it,” Wilson said. “Last year’s mainly went for increases for employees that had they not got it last year, then it would have been four years. This year was just going back and addressing some reoccurring costs and additional costs that we’ve incurred in the last couple of years.”
If Van Buren County had not been able to pass a balanced budget, there was a danger the Comptroller could take charge of the county’s finances. Maxwell said that is something the Commission wanted to avoid.
“They did not want to lose local control of our government,” Maxwell said. “I felt like it was the right thing to do to proceed and keep local control of our government.”