City talks ‘tax rate;’ county slows the ‘fast-track’

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

Like the carnival shell game, which relies on sleight of hand and fast-talking, politicians often state and reframe issues so that it’s hard for residents to keep an eye on the prize. Take property taxes.

Republicans locally are celebrating a county property tax rate that’s not been raised since the beginning of Tommy Schumpert’s second term (1998). And Republicans are taunting the Knoxville mayor and city council for passing a 50-cent tax increase earlier this year.

Tonight (07/26/22), Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon will ask the city council to certify a tax rate that’s the lowest since 1974. According to a city press release, Kincannon will ask the council to adjust the city’s tax rate from $2.9638 to a new rate of $2.1556.

“I am pleased that this rate is right in line with what we predicted back in April,” Kincannon said. “Knoxvillians will be paying taxes at the lowest rate in almost 50 years, while still supporting all the key services they deserve.”

Folks, it’s not about the tax rate or the tax appraisal. What matters is the amount of the check you write for taxes. In both the city and the county this year, that amount will be higher than last year for more valuable property (newer or in a faster-appreciating area). It will be lower for property with less appreciation.

And even though the city’s tax rate is the lowest in 48 years, the city council raised taxes. As the city’s press release states: “The adjustment lowers the net impact of the recent tax increase to 36.5 cents.”

And from Knox County Commission

Sometime between 10:30 and 11 p.m., the commission voted 7-3-1 on first reading to approve the ordinance proposed by Mayor Glenn Jacobs to fast-track the appeals process on certain zoning items. This actually was a win, of sorts, for Kevin Murphy and the Knox County Planning Alliance. Commission could have just passed it on second reading and been done with it.

But as Murphy pointed out in, the amendment added after the first vote substantially changed the ordinance. The commission needed to start again. Commissioners Terry Hill, John Schoonmaker and Courtney Durrett voted no; and Dasha Lundy passed. The ordinance, as amended, will reappear at the August meeting for a vote on second reading.

Two interesting quotes: To those who said the ordinance does not really restrict citizens’ ability to appeal, Terry Hill countered that those who have written or phoned her believe it does. “It is a perceived loss of a right.” I think Hill would like to see proponents do a better sales job.

The second quote was from commission chair Richie Beeler, a competent, calm leader. He said when things get tangled, he goes with people he trusts. I figured he would say Kevin Murphy, who has nothing to gain and lives in Beeler’s district. “And that person is Mayor Jacobs,” said Beeler.

Beeler said he would vote yes on first reading, but would need more convincing before going with it on second reading.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.

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