By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has passed an ordinance on final reading that sets the same tax rate for the 2018 fiscal year.
Board members took the action during their June 13 meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Al Bell and seconded by Alderman Thomas McGhee. The motion was passed by a 5-1 vote, with Alderman Mike Caruthers dissenting and Alderman Bethany Huffman absent.
The ordinance will continue to levy a tax on real and personal property at the current rate of $1.53 for each $100 of assessed valuation. When collected, 93 cents of that rate will be apportioned for Millington’s “general purposes” and 60 cents for the city’s debt service.
Shortly before the vote, the board also adopted a resolution that approved a “certified” tax rate. That motion, offered by Alderman Frankie Dakin and seconded by McGhee, was passed by six affirmative votes.
Because this is a reappraisal year, Millington Finance Director John Trusty has said that, with the new appraisals, the board was required by Tennessee law to certify what is an equivalent tax rate to the city’s current rate.
The resolution states that the Shelby County property assessor completed a required reappraisal of all real and personal property in the county and certified the Jan. 1 values as of April 20.
Tennessee Code Annotated Section 67-5-1701 defines the certified, or “tax neutral,” property tax rate that must be calculated and adopted by a local government when reappraisal occurs.
Using the methodology established by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, Millington has calculated a certified tax rate of $1.43 for each $100 of assessed valuation.
The resolution states that the county assessor and the State Board of Equalization have reviewed and approved that calculation.
Trusty has said the board had to vote either to continue with the current rate, go with the certified rate or whatever amount for which it wanted to set a rate.
During discussion before the vote, Caruthers recalled that the city has put $2.5 million back into its “coffers” since 2012. He said the board increased taxes by 20 cents “a couple of years ago” to pave streets and recently raised sewer and water rates.
While noting that Trusty told him the “break-even point” is $1.49, Caruthers proposed that the board set it as the tax rate. He said the city would not be making any more or less money.
“It’s the same thing that we’re making now,” he said. “So, it’s not like we’re taking money away from the city.”
Because Millington wants to “keep” its people here, Caruthers said his proposal would basically be a “token of our appreciation” for them.
Trusty said the break-even point would be with a “5-percent growth rate” after the reappraisal appeals are processed.
When McGhee and Alderman Larry Dagen noted that Millington is borrowing money to fund projects that have been “deferred for a long time,” Caruthers said the city is “leveraging” its money.
McGhee acknowledged that the board would “certainly” prefer to “never” raise taxes. But he said “the reality of living” is that “everything costs.”
“While there’s an opportunity to put something away that would provide for a future that is not as certain as we would like it to be,” he said, “I don’t see the benefit in rolling back right now.”
McGhee also said that, for Millington to generate “any meaningful amount” of money, the board would have to increase the taxes by 50 percent. He called $1.53 “a very reasonable rate.”
While noting that he has a lot of commercial property and owns several residential properties, Alderman Don Lowry said he will “appeal everything.” He believes the assessor’s office “went crazy,” with 50 percent on some of his commercial property and as much as 100 percent reappraisal value.
Lowry said that, when it is “all over with” and the appeals are heard, he thinks Millington will be breaking even with the $1.53 rate.
By Bill Short