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Board passes 25-cent tax increase

The Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a 25-cent property tax increase Monday on third reading to resounding applause. The money will go toward debt service related to the construction of a $99 million high school.

Board members unanimously approved the new rate of $1.78 per $100 of the assessed value after listening to numerous residents for the second consecutive board meeting.

Public comments were permitted despite the fact that the final reading of the tax increase did not call for a public forum.

Calling it the biggest decision he would ever make as an alderman, Tom Allen said he struggled with the choice to grow the tax rate by 25 cents.

Earlier this month, Allen voted against a 20-cent rate increase.

“It wasn’t until my granddaughter [a student at Collierville High School] told me that you couldn’t bend over in the hallway without getting run over that I knew,” he said, referencing the state of overcrowding at the current school.

On June 8, the board hosted a public hearing to discuss the town’s $72.6 million budget for the 2016 fiscal year and a proposed 15-cent property tax increase to fund the construction of the high school. The board ended up backing an even higher rate of 20 cents, or $1.53 per $100 of assessed value.

Mayor Stan Joyner and Alderman Billy Patton explained Monday night why the rate increase was again set higher than initially proposed.

Noting that the town’s financial staff had a lengthy discussion with Moody’s Investors Service the previous week, Joyner said the bond credit rating business expressed concern with the 20-cent increase.

“There is a push from some legislators in Nashville who want the county to receive the half-cent sales tax that the Town of Collierville receives right now,” he said. “Then we would lose that revenue stream. Moody’s was concerned about us relying too heavily on that sales tax dollar. [The 25 cent increase] does give us a little bit of room in the event that we have another downturn in the economy or something that decreases the sales tax dollar.

“If that were to happen,” he continued, “the only other place we would have to look would be back to the property tax. That might require another increase. We are trying to come to the best decision we can come to. We’re looking 30-50 years down the road.”

Patton said the 25-cent rate increase, rather than the 20-cent increase, would help the town preserve its AAA bond rating.

The proposed site for the school is on 136 acres of land south of Shelby Drive and east of Sycamore Road.

Several residents spoke in favor of the decision to move forward swiftly with the new school.

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