published Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

East Ridge proposes 26 percent property tax increase

After an abrupt motion for a vote and heated discussion, East Ridge CityCouncil voted 3-2 tonight to increase the city’s property taxes by 30 cents during a budget workshop session.

The council also voted to increase solid waste fees by $5 a month, bump up the city’s hotel/motel tax by two percent. In addition, they formulate the budget so it would include a 3 percent raise for all city employees, and include $220,000 to raise salaries for police and firemen.

Councilman Darwin Branam made the motion at the beginning of the meeting, stating that the staff had gone through the budget “with a fine tooth comb,” and that the city’s looming $600,000 deficit could only be eliminated with some significant revenue increases.

Councilman Jim Bethune spoke out against the motion.

“I thought we were going to see what cuts we could make,” he said, stating that many people in the city wouldn’t be able to afford a steep tax hike because of the economy. “These are the people who voted for you and you and you and you’re already hitting them with a tax.”

Branam, Mayor Brent Lambert, and vice mayor Larry Sewell voted in favor of the increase, while Bethune and councilman Denny Manning opposed.

The property tax increase would mean homeowners would pay an additional $75 a year for a $100,000 house.

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