Jonesborough prepares to readjust property tax rate

Jonathan Roberts • Aug 29, 2019 at 5:45 PM

After a 2019 property assessment sent Jonesborough’s property tax to a significant drop, the town is preparing to readjust the rate at its next meeting.

The town saw its property tax rate equalized following property assessments that led Jonesborough’s property tax rate to fall dramatically from $1.3105 to $1.1328. Jonesborough says the town has already lost $23,127 in property tax revenue, a figure that’s expected to grow as appeals continue into September. To combat this, the town is looking to readjust the tax rate to $1.20-$0.11 lower than it was to begin the year.

“We think that (readjustment) will make things whole,” Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said. “We’re not looking to have a large increase on anybody, it’s just with these reappraisals it’s costing us money.”

The town approved the current $1.13 rate, with plans to move it at the next Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, which is set for Sept. 9. The town has to advertise the change for 10 days before making any adjustment, so if they aren’t able to get advertise it before Saturday, the vote will be rescheduled to a later date.

During Thursday’s special called session, the board also approved the town’s budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, a process that’s usually completed around the time the fiscal year starts July 1. Vest said the delay was partly due to the appraisal process and their plan to build a new K-8 school in the town.

The town made few major changes to the budget, but upped the cost of establishing garbage collection service by $10, and added $6,000 in support for the nonprofit Paws in Blue, which has been raising money to help get the Jonesborough Police Department new K9’s.

The board also toyed with the idea of increasing the property tax in the future to add another firefighter and a police officer to the town’s public safety departments. Every one cent the town adds to their property tax, they generate about $16,000. Each new position would necessitate just over a six-cent increase to cover salary and benefits.

“We’re supportive of keeping our people safe, and that’s something that will probably be addressed, not this year, but maybe next budget year,” Vest said.

Alderman Stephen Callahan said during the meeting that the town hasn’t expanded the fire or police departments since 1995.

“I have spoken to several people, and one of the things I see an immediate need for us to start looking into is adding another firefighter and police officer,” Callahan said. “I just learned we haven’t added any personnel since about 1995, which blows my mind.”