Thursday during a business meeting, Commissioner Heiskell announced that she will raise county property taxes this summer by at least one mil, possibly more. (1 mil is $1 for every thousand in property value.)
Last year voters were told to renew SPLOST so she wouldn’t have to raise property taxes. With her pet project fund secured, it’s back to the business of screwing everyone over.
WQCH Radio, 03/28/14: “EXPECT WALKER COUNTY PROPERTY TAXES TO GO UP THIS YEAR. COUNTY COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL SAID IT’S BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE SHE RAISED TAXES – BUT THE TIME HAS COME.
“‘IT COULD BE A MILL… MAYBE MORE’ SHE SAID. AND IF VOTERS SHOULD PASS A DEDICATED LIBRARY TAX QUESTION ON THE MAY 20th BALLOT, A NEW QUARTER-MILL TAX WILL BE ADDED FOR THAT PURPOSE, AS WELL.
“AT HER BUSINESS MEETING THURSDAY, HEISKELL SIGNED A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING A NEW ‘LINE OF CREDIT’ IN THE FORM OF A TAX ANTICIPATION NOTE. ‘WE’RE TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE LOW INTEREST RATES BEFORE THEY GO UP’, SHE SAID. THE LOAN INTEREST IS ZERO-POINT-78 PERCENT, AND THE LINE OF CREDIT IS NOT TO EXCEED 7.7-MILLION DOLLARS.
“HEISKELL SAID SOME COUNTY EMPLOYEES HAVE NOT HAD A RAISE IN SEVEN YEARS, AND THE COSTS OF OPERATING COUNTY GOVERNMENT CONTINUE TO RISE. HEISKELL ADDED ‘IF I DON’T RAISE TAXES THIS YEAR, THE NEXT ONE IN THIS OFFICE WILL HAVE TO.’ SHE THEN ADDED THAT SHE IS PLANNING TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION AT THE END OF THE CURRENT TERM.
“THE TAX ANTICIPATION NOTE IS A SHORT-TERM LOAN THAT WILL BE PAID IN FULL, WHEN PROPERTY TAXES ARE COLLECTED AT YEAR’S-END.”
She’s told media there’s been no increase in the last ten years – that’s a lie by any definition. She raised taxes in July 2010 by half a mil. She also raised taxes in 2005, 2004, and 2002. Total increases since she took office in 2001? 2 mils. And now she needs at least an additional mil to keep the county going without these increasing annual loans.
Chattanooga Times Free Press, yesterday: “‘I haven’t raised taxes in over 10 years,’ said Heiskell. ‘Our expenses are getting higher and higher as we operate on the same amount of money. If I don’t do it, somebody else will have to.’”
Haven’t raised taxes in over ten years. WQCH from FOUR years ago:
WQCH Radio, 07/30/10: “WALKER COUNTY GOVERNMENT HAS APPROVED THE PROPOSED HALF-MIL INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES, AND BY THE THIRD AND FINAL PUBLIC HEARING LAST WEEK, COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL SAID CITIZENS ATTENDING HAD ‘COME TO UNDERSTAND THE NEED.’ HEISKELL SAID EVEN A COUPLE OF TEA PARTY MEMBERS ATTENDING WERE CONVINCED THAT THE COUNTY HAD DONE WHAT IT COULD – TO HOLD COSTS DOWN.”
Meanwhile Walker County has no fiscal 2014 budget, just took $4 million of property off the tax register by purchasing it with SPLOST funds, and is spending money to set up a county fair at Mountain Cove Farms, a facility which probably costs a half-mil in property taxes a year to operate with no real benefit.
The county’s annual audit for fiscal 2013 (which ended in October) should be available in the next four or five weeks. When that comes out we’ll see exactly how much Bebe’s actually done to save money vs. throwing it down a black hole. LU’s bet is on the hole…
LaFayette leaders, on the other hand, say the city should be run like a business, since almost all of the town’s operating budget comes from selling utilities to residents.
The city’s “business” should be cutting out fat to become solvent and keep those utility rates low. Cut down to the basics.. Fire, police, road/streets. Regular recreation and pool “so the kids have something to do.” And not much else.
The biggest financial burden in the city with no proven return is the golf course, but city leaders won’t deal with it because it’d be political suicide from those deep-pocket people who actually call the shots.
Using the hundreds of thousands of dollars the golf course eats up to lower utility costs a bit would do more to bring in people and businesses than the course itself does – but in Walker County (county and city alike) it’s apparently better to throw money away, cross fingers, and make the community desirable through more wishful thinking.
Maybe that’s why the county and city are getting along so well as of late.
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