ORN lowers taxes again amid flat sales tax revenue

ORN lowers taxes again amid flat sales tax revenueThe city of Oak Ridge North approved its fiscal year 2016-17 city budget Aug. 29 and kept taxes from increasing for the fifth consecutive year.

The new property tax rate for FY 2016-17 is $0.45 cents per $100 valuation, compared to the property tax rate in FY 2015-16, which was $0.46 cents per $100 valuation. The tax rate is expected to raise $679,333, which is $52,735 less, or a 7.2 percent decrease, for maintenance and operations than last year’s tax rate.

City Manager Vicky Rudy said the tax rate will lower taxes on a $100,000 home by approximately $10.20. Rudy said the city has had a commitment to lowering taxes the past few years.

“We keep taxes low by committing to minimal increases in expenditures,” Rudy said. “We also commit to transferring to capital funds, and we don’t look for ways to spend money just because the appraisals are high. It’s a balancing act every year.”

Mayor Jim Kuykendall said this year’s budget was another success for lowering taxes, and the city will continue to watch major expenses.

“Vicky Rudy and her staff have put together a solid budget plan,” Kuykendall said. “This budget is one that continues to meet the needs and expectations of our residents while continuing our high level of service. We were also able to continue our efforts to keep the tax rate as low as possible. As always, we will be watching the expenses to insure we get the biggest bang for our tax dollars.”

Although the tax rate was lowered for FY 2016-17, the city’s sales tax revenue have remained flat over the past year. The city projects a 6 percent increase in sales tax for FY 2016-17 due to the new Crowne Plaza Hotel that will be located in Oak Ridge North.

“We came in flat this year, and the reason is because of the oil and gas downturn,” Rudy said. “We have some oil and gas businesses in our business park and so that took a hit. Our retail centers are still doing very well, though. The hotels should bring the sales tax up, but we’re still being conscientious about it.”

The city also planned contributions to the capital improvements fund. Capital fund expenditures total approximately $3 million. Total estimated funds made available for capital improvements in FY 2017 are $4,817,604. Rudy said the city is focusing on water and sewage projects.

“The focus is on aging water lines and draining issues,” she said. “There’s a list of projects we have to work on over the next 10 years. We want to replace a little at a time with cash that we have on hand. Robinson Road solutions are also a priority in 2017 and 2018. Repair and replacement of infrastructure, along with mobility needs, are what we’re defining.”


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