Winchester Herald Chronicle

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Cowan Council approves tax increase

Posted on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 9:00 am

Cowan residents can expect to pay a little more in property tax this year after the City Council passed an ordinance to exceed the recently amended certified tax rate.

Following a close 3-2 vote during Tuesday’s monthly meeting in City Hall, councilmembers approved Ordinance 17-06-03’s second and final reading.

The certified tax rate is $1.45 per $100 in property valuation. The previous rate was $1.53.

Such an ordinance’s passage is required when a municipality opts to exceed certified tax rates. After the countywide property reappraisals, amended rates were issued for county and city residents.

These reappraisals occur every five years, and adjustments are made so that the same amount of revenue is raised as the previous year. If the previous tax rate is maintained, the difference is, in effect, a property tax increase.

Because the average property values increased, rates were adjusted to reflect the uptick. For a resident’s personal property tax bill to remain the same as it was last year, the new, lesser rate would have to be implemented.

To quantify this, on a $100,000 residence, the difference would be $20 annually or $1.67 per month. If the certified tax rate had been used the taxes would be $362.50 annually on such a home. However, by remaining with the previous rate, the bill will go up to $382.50

Councilman Ransom Green initially motioned ordinance approval. Councilman Mark Ledbetter ushered a second. The ordinance passed by a narrow margin, with two councilmen casting dissenting votes.

Councilmen Ben Merrill and Price Tucker did not support the ordinance.

After the meeting, Merrill said he couldn’t support a tax increase on Cowan citizens.

“If we were running in the red, it might be different, but we’re a fiscally sound city,” he said.

In favor of the ordinance, and a proactive approach endorsing prevention over treatment, Ledbetter explained that it’s like a drink of water.

“If you’re parched, a drink will quench your thirst, but careful sips will spare you any thirst at all,” he said.