KINGSPORT, Tenn. - People in Kingsport could cough up more cash for taxes, but the mayor says you may have a choice in which taxes you pay.
In the light of recent talk of a tax increase, Mayor Dennis Phillips is asking for help on major decisions.
Last monday the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen met to discuss balancing the budget. After eight years of the city avoiding tax increases, Mayor Dennis Phillips says now a property tax increase is inevitable. He says, "We've not been alone in a shortage of our budget this year."
Mayor Phillips says that other cities will also raise taxes, but their goal has been to stay low to keep residents inside the city lines. He says the recession has finally trickled down from the national to local level.
Now, the city is trying to keep up with the need of money. He says the problem is a lack of tax revenue from sales tax. "The equivalent is that if the economy had been at a normal 3 percent growth," he said. "We estimate that we're behind about $5 million annually in our income."
The effect is leaving residents of Kingsport with a decision: the kind of tax they want. Mayor Phillips says you can take your pick between a $5 garbage fee with a four-cent property tax increase, or a 13-cent property tax increase. The mayor says, "The plus of the taxes is they are deductible on your income tax, where the fee isn't."
Some residents say every cent matters. "Yeah, it's 4 cents now, what was it before that?" asks taxpayer Charles Williams. "Why do I have to make this sacrifice? Is it necessary? Can we find another avenue?"
Mayor Phillips says that concerned citizens can help avoid tax increases in two ways. They can spend money locally to help sales tax or voicing your opinions as to which sales tax Kingsport citizens will pay.
Despite the Kingsport City School's request for $1.5 million, there's a good chance they won't see a dime when a tax decision is made in June.
If you're interested in voicing your opinion, go to our WCYB Facebook page and let us know which tax you'd prefer.