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City tax increase talk intensifies
Neal, Mike.jpg
Mike Neal

McMinnville property owners may receive a second property tax increase.

After the Warren County Commission passed a countywide 28-cent tax increase last month, McMinnville officials are beginning to talk like a tax increase may be on the way for city property owners too.

This would be the second increase for city residents, who pay both city and county taxes.

“I’m not a proponent of more taxes than what we need, but I am a proponent of being fiscally accountable,” said Alderman Mike Neal. “I do not want us to find ourselves in the situation that the county found itself in. Rather than go real deep in the hole, I would rather see us have some type of property tax increase this year as to put it off for another year and having to do a larger one.”

Neal added, “We do cost-of-living raises. We may need a cost-of-doing-government tax increase. Everything we spend money on goes up.”

“I don’t have a problem with doing a small one,” replied Alderman Everett Brock, going against earlier statements he made that there would be no city property tax increase.

No specific amount was mentioned. 

That discussion took place Tuesday when the city’s Finance Committee met to continue budget discussions for fiscal year 2019-20. Brock outlined the financial shortfall and the committee’s suggestion on how the Board of Mayor and Aldermen can cut $900,000 from the proposed budgets.

“When we started budget discussions, it was estimated that we would have $5.3 million to begin this fiscal year,” said Brock. “As it turns out, since we do have June’s numbers in, it ended up at $4.8 million.”  

With the proposed budgets presented out of committees, projected expenditures will bring the ending fund balance on June 30, 2020 down to $1.7 million, a number Brock described as “scary.”

Finance Committee members lack the authority to make changes to the budgets. However, they can recommend changes to the full board. 

“I have put down two different plans and the Finance Committee is going to send both of them to the board with a recommendation,” said Brock. 

The committee is endorsing approval of the budget, after it is amended with approximately $900,000 in cuts to bring the ending fund balance up to $2.6 million 

“These are maximum cuts without any layoffs,” said Brock. “We still aren’t balancing the budget, but we are getting $900,000 closer to it.”

Specifically mentioned was removing the remaining $500,000 for street paving, $100,000 for renovation of the remaining two tennis courts, and new equipment for the police department.

Departmental decreases total:  $892,590

Police Department: $211,240

Fire Department: $32,500

Community Development Dept.: $15,700

Public Works: $485,700

Parks and Recreation: $131,000

Park Theater: $16,450

“We are not in that bad a shape, but we need to watch our spending and get it eventually to where we have a balanced budget or as close to it as we can,” said Brock. 

Yet to be reviewed by Financial Committee members is the proposed budget for administration. Its budget for 2019-20 is $2.6 million and only $4,025 more than its 2018-29 fiscal year budget. 

Currently within the administration budget are nonprofit requests. Given last year was $393,800. That number was used in generating its proposed budget. However, requested by charitable and civic organizations for the upcoming year is $437,920. Finance Committee members have yet to consider those requests. 

The largest allocation request came from Warren County Chamber of Commerce. It requested $199,900, an increase of $25,200 from last year. Itemized list: $75,000 administrative fee for the Chamber overseeing the Tourism Development Board, $47,500 for ad content generation, $36,900 for digital advertising, $29,000 for print and digital ads, $2,500 for expos and training, $6,000 for relocation, and $3,000 for placemakers grant match.

Finance Committee members unanimously approved recommending to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that changes totaling $892,590 be made to the budget.