Johnson City

Possible property tax increase in Johnson City could help school system

Possible property tax increase in Johnson City could help school system

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A tight budget in Johnson City could mean your property taxes may go up.

We're told the school board voted Monday to support the property tax increase if the school system would get a portion of the revenue.

Let's take a look at the numbers -- right now taxes are at $1.57 per $100 of property value. The school board says if the city gave them 20 cents of the proposed increase, their issues would be solved.

Now it's all in the hands of city leaders.

It would the first property tax increase for the city in 12 years. "We have to do everything we can in order to give [our children] the best education possible," says Lisa Coggins.    

Lisa Coggins lives in Johnson City. She says if a tax increase is the only way to help the school system, she's in favor of it. "I think I would be with everybody else. I wouldn't be happy about it, but I would definitely support it, because I've got two girls of my own and they need the best we can offer," she said.

We checked and found out the Johnson City School System's budget is $3.4 million short. "We would have to cut programs and services in order to have a balanced budget, and this is concerning," adds Debra Bentley.

Bentley with Johnson City Schools says they have been operating the school system on a bare-bones budget for the past two to three years. She says teachers, administrators and staff make up around 83 percent of the budget. "There is nothing left to cut but personnel, and that will certainly impact our schools," says Bentley.

That's why Bentley says the board supports the city if they choose to increase property taxes, as long as the city gives them 20 cents of what the increase ends up being

Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin says an increase may be the only way. "My understanding of the budget and my analysis of our needs versus the projected venues, I don't see any approach other than some sort of tax increase to accommodate our needs," he said.

Van Brocklin says the commission is hearing from department heads about where cuts can occur. "We are listening to what you're saying. Some of those cuts may still occur; some of those cuts may be avoided, either to identify other things we can cut instead or through a tax increase," he said.

Van Brocklin says no decision has been made about changes to the budget.

Mayor Van Brocklin says next week the commission will meet to talk about the proposed cuts and break down each section.

The first budget reading is on June 19.

A budget has to be in place by July 1.

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