Update: This story has been updated to reflect the Wednesday vote by the Rutherford County Commission.
Rutherford County commissioners voted on Wednesday to increase the property tax by 5.7%. This means Murfreesboro residents are facing two separate property tax hikes. One at the city level, and another at the county level.
It’s been 21 years since the city of Murfreesboro raised property taxes. And as a conservative, keeping taxes low is part of Councilman Eddie Smotherman’s ideology.
“Initially I had been one who probably was the most staunch opponent of tax increases on our council,” Smotherman said.
But Murfreesboro has grown a lot. Since it last raised property taxes the population has nearly doubled. And that means building an infrastructure to sustain that growth — new schools, better roads, more police and fire personnel.
“We also understand there is a problem with growth not paying its way,” he added.
So after two years of dipping into the city’s savings fund, Smotherman decided it was time to get behind a property tax hike. And so, earlier this month he voted in favor of a 35.8% increase. It passed and will cost the average homeowner an additional $300 a year.
For years, Murfreesboro staved off raising property taxes thanks to an increase of sales tax revenue. But that’s dipped off in recent years. So, it’s got to come up with a plan for the long term. Smotherman says this increase sets the city up well. But it’s also considering adding impact fees.
In other words, put developers on the hook for some of the cost rather than just the citizens.