Lower city property taxes may be in Shelbyville residents’ future.
The prospect of a reduction in the property tax rate was discussed Tuesday night at a City Council study session.
“The price of goods is expensive right now and we want to see if we can try and reduce the property taxes,” Mayor Randy Carroll said. “I think the council members want to do their part on this.”
Shelbyville’s current property tax rate is $1.59 per $100 of assessed value. The previous council’s increase to the current figure was a hot topic during last fall’s municipal election.
The yearly city budget is planned each spring. “It would be meaningless to discuss it now before the budget is even set,” council member Bobby Turnbow said.
City Manager Scott Collins explained that tax rates in any municipality are usually set during actual budget sessions.
Some council members appeared confused about the process for setting tax rates. City Recorder Lisa Smith, who compiles agenda for council meetings, urged members to propose a tax rate if possible during the study session so a number could be placed on the agenda for the Feb. 9 monthly meeting. Smith explained that number can be easily changed during discussion at that meeting, and the resulting proposal would remain changeable beyond that date.
“The number one request when I was campaigning was that the property tax was too high,” Turnbow said. He suggested setting the rate at $1.36.
Council member Henry Feldhaus countered with a $0.95 cent proposal, which is Murfreesboro’s rate (0.9526 per $100).
“I propose 95 cents because Murfreesboro’s tax rate is 95 cents and they seem to be very popular over there, too, so 95 cents sounds good to me,” Feldhaus said. “If you want to go low, how low you wanna go? It’s totally a political statement, it has nothing to do with the budget right now until you pass a budget, so...whatever Mr. Farrar wants, I guess.”
Feldhaus was referring to Shelbyville businessman and property owner James Farrar, who was a strong supporter of council candidates opposing tax increases.
Carroll said each cent in the property tax rate represents approximately $57,000.
“We don’t want to cut any type of services or protection. We do want to relieve the pressure that’s on the citizens if we can,” Carroll said.
Turnbow then offered several numbers in the $1.47-$1.51 range.
“We do need to do some adjusting...and set an example to live within our means,” council member Marilyn Ewing said. Ewing and council members William Christie, Stephanie Isaacs and Gary Haile did not propose rates.
More information is needed on sales tax revenues and other items before an exact rate can be proposed, Collins told the council.
The tax rate will be listed as $1.59 on the Feb. 9 agenda, Smith said. The council was reminded again by Smith that the number can be changed during discussion.