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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tax freeze for seniors
The Cocke County Finance Committee agreed Monday to recommend a resolution to the full legislative body which would freeze property taxes for low-income seniors. The resolution was presented by County Mayor Crystal Ottinger who said the program would be in addition to the current state tax relief program for handicapped and seniors. "It's for people 65 or older who have a maximum income of $29,000. It would apply to the home and five acres. If they have more it would be taxed at the current rate," the mayor said. The move would not reduce the current tax payment, but would freeze the rate for the future, and would affect approximately 1,200 property owners, according to Mayor Ottinger. The Newport City Council some time ago had considered implementing the program but decided against the move because any future increases would then have to be picked up by the other taxpayers. William Shults, a retired Tennessee Claims Commissioner expressed concern about the direction of the county. He pointed to the fact that Cocke County is an economically distressed county putting it in the bottom ten percent the nations' counties. Shults pointed to the many positives of the community; it is located on the interstate and surrounded by a beautiful environment of mountains, lakes and rivers. He argued for a wheel tax, saying his family owns the land that is being considered for the new county industrial park. According to Shults, he was approached by Partnership President Lucas Graham regarding the property and has offered it at a cost "less than market value". But he said that is not his motivation for pushing for a wheel tax. Shults pointed to unpopular political decisions in the history of the country which he said ended up being the right move. "Sometimes you have to do things that are courageous and may get you beat. But I doubt it. If we don't start making some decisions like that, we will sink even further into the bottom of the barrel that we are in now." Shults argued that with a property tax, just 35 percent of the population pays all the tax. But fellow concerned citizen Greg Fodness pointed out that most people who rent indirectly pay the property tax. Commissioner Calvin Ball again suggested that funding for the animal shelter by cut to $60,000, but he was reminded that the Friends of the Animal Shelter Humane Society has said it will not open the upgraded shelter unless it receives adequate funding from both Newport and Cocke County. The committee is not scheduled to meet again until the full commission meets on August 21. At that time the body will consider two budget proposals. Option A would provide a 31 cent tax increase to simply balance the budget. Option B would provide for a 41 cent increase, with the additional 10 cents earmarked for an industrial park and jail. Earlier Chair of the the committee, Andy Tritt, had suggested that an increase could mean a tax hike of as much as $18.75 monthly on a $100,000 home. But Commissioner Clayton "Skip" Ellison reported that he talked with the Property Assessor's office and was told Option A would result in an annual increase of $78.20, while Option B would mean an annual increase of $103.20. Commission Chair Clay Blazer called on the commission members to present alternatives if they are uncomfortable with the proposals. "If we have people who have serious concerns about the budget, I'm OK with that. But I'm hoping we can provide some kind of proposal because we don't have time to meet for another month. If we don't have a budget by August 31, the state gets involved."


Return to Today's News Stories - Front Page

Saturday, November 18, 2017

  • Monica Denton heads back to prison
  • Tennessee jobless
  • Thanksgiving travel

    Friday, November 17, 2017

  • ACA enrollment
  • Cocke County Partnership meeting
  • Pridemore is being sought
  • Narcan program
  • Environmental standards are relaxed
  • Pro bono work in Tennessee
  • VietNow settlement
  • State jobless remains at record level
  • Major scam

    Thursday, November 16, 2017

  • Newport leaf truck
  • Animal shelter funding (Update)
  • Trousdale Prison issues
  • Thanksgiving travel
  • TVA finances and bonuses
  • Morriss and Nail Paradise

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017

  • Ebbs sentenced in 2016 death
  • Newport City Council
  • Electrical cord warning

    Tuesday, November 14, 2017

  • Cocke Finance Committee
  • Cocke County Circuit Court
  • James arrest
  • Newport animal shelter Update
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