Commission Discusses Reducing Property Tax Rate, Maintaining Same Tax Revenue

Photo: Marty Haynes, Hamilton County Assessor of Property 

Photo Credit: HamiltonCountyTN / YouTube

Published August 2, 2021 

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] – 

Last week, the Hamilton County Commission heard, upon first reading, a resolution to adopt a new tax levy for 2021. 

District 6 Commissioner David Sharpe said, “To put it in layman’s terms, what we are doing here is essentially reducing the tax rate to maintain a steady level of revenue.” 

The new property tax levy is a culmination of the County Tax Assessor’s 4-year reappraisal process where all real and personal property were sifted through and all values were reassessed. 

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To equalize the rate, the certified tax rate has to be adjusted.  If the resolution to adopt the new certified tax rate is approved, it will be reflected in this year’s tax bills. 

Marty Haynes, Hamilton County Assessor of Property, said, “We take the 4-year values of each property and personal property across the county, we send that information to the Comptroller’s office.  They do the math to show what the tax rate should be, the new certified lower tax rate that is presented to you this morning, and that produces the same amount of tax revenue for Hamilton County this year as it was last year.  So, there is no windfall increase in property tax revenue based on reappraisal.” 

Sharpe asked for clarification, “So, in other words, we’re lowering the tax rate as to not increase the amount of dollars that our citizens are paying in taxes?” 

Haynes replied, “Overall for the county.  Typically, what happens in an appraisal year, about a third of the folks see an increase, a third of the folks pay about the same, and a third of the property owners see a reduction in their property taxes.” 

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Sharpe said, “So if we were not to lower the tax rate, everyone would see a tax increase.” 

The old tax rate was 2.7652% per $100 of assessed value. 

The new rate, if approved, will be 2.2373% per $100 of assessed value. 

Haynes said, “On residential, you only pay taxes on 25 percent of your value, for commercial properties, you pay 40 percent, for personal property you pay taxes on 30 percent of the value.” 

The percentages Haynes mentioned are set by the State Board of Equalization and then submitted to and approved by the State Legislature, making those percentages state law. 

District 7 Commissioner Sabrina Smedley asked Haynes if there was a specific area of the county that might see an increase. 

Haynes said, “We don’t break things down by political districts, we do it by municipal boundaries.  We break the county into five different residential areas.” But said that he would see to it that the Commissioners receive the appropriate information. 

District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey asked Haynes, “Can you guesstimate whether taxes would have gone up, stayed the same, or gone down if we had blocked all this construction that we’ve been pushing?” 

Haynes replied, “We experience growth every year…growth for this past year was not as extensive as what we normally see…typically we see somewhere between two and three percent, this year it’s going to be somewhere around one percent.” 

Haynes confirmed that taxes would have gone up regardless of the push for new economic expansion in the county.  However, he did say that growth usually does equal an increase in tax revenue and that such growth, most likely, would decrease the need for an overall tax increase. 

Haynes stated that the tornado last year affected economic growth somewhat, but the onset of COVID affecting it dramatically. 

“One anomaly that we did see this time that we did not experience in 2017 was a higher increase in our personal property values, which are the business assets that businesses have to report, that number was up higher as far as increase in value was up more than what it typically goes up in a four-year period,” Haynes said. 

District 3 Commissioner Greg Martin said, “I think it’s an important message that it’s not the Assessor who raises those taxes…it’s us.  It’s this body.  It’s the nine members of this County Commission who were elected by the people that determine what the tax rate is.” 

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About the Author:

Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative 

Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

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