$600,000 budget shortfall could mean 40-cent tax increase for Erwin; Unicoi County Budget Committee working to trim $281,000 budget deficit

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 28, 2019 at 4:17 PM

ERWIN — With a proposed 2019-20 budget more than $600,000 in the red, the town of Erwin appears to be in line for a 40-cent property tax increase.

Up for a vote on first reading on Monday, Aug. 5, the final budget proposal includes a 2% pay increase for town employees, one new full-time employee for the street department and two current part-time employees who will be brought up to full-time.

Large budget expenditures include approximately $600,000 for Tennessee Department of Transportation road resurfacing, about $108,000 in debt service that was extended for one year in the town’s last fiscal year budget and debt service on approximately $1 million in financing for last fiscal year’s purchase of a fire truck, an emergency response truck and two police cruisers.

The budget expenditures also include more than $200,000 in match funding for grants from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for completion of the pad-ready development of the former Morgan industrial site and from the Appalachian Regional Commission for a connector trail between the Erwin Linear Trail and the Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail in Unicoi.

While tax revenues were up slightly, Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff said last week that a review of the numbers had not revealed in any way to reduce the more than $600,00 shortfall which would equate to about 40 additional cents on the town’s property tax rate.

Asked if the property tax rate will go up 40 cents, Mayor Doris Hensley said, “That’s what we have to decide.”

A 1.5-cent property tax hike included in last year’s $6.5 million budget brought the town’s tax rate to $1.462 for every $100 of assessed property value.

In Unicoi County, the County Commission’s Budget Committee is still working to trim a $281,480 budget deficit which, if not reduced, would equate to an approximate 9-cent increase in the county property tax rate.

The committee is scheduled to meet daily through Thursday, Aug. 1, and again on Monday, Aug. 5 in advance a of a special called Aug. 5 meeting of the full commission for a first reading vote on a final budget proposal.