Decrease is correct. Lakeland property taxes are coming down. Not going up. Not staying the same, but coming down.
Unlike other municipalities which are raising property taxes, Lakeland has decided to lower the rate from the current $1.40 to $1.25. And that rate is even below the certified tax rate of $ 1.29, a revenue-neutral rate based on new property appraisals by the Shelby County Assessor.
On first reading at tonight’s meeting (5.11.17), the ordinance adopting the annual budget and tax rate for July 1 to June 30, 2018 passed unanimously by the Board of Commissioners (BOC).
City Manager Jim Atkinson said a snail mail letter will be generated to send to Lakeland residents, advising them of the tax decrease.
Germantown is considering a hike of 23-cents, Bartlett 35-cents, mostly to go to education funding.
Mayor Wyatt Bunker reiterated what he has been saying for weeks. “The City is in good financial shape. We can reduce our taxes beyond $1.29 to $1.25,” he said. We can provide tax and fee relief for our citizens.” He referred to a recent restructure of fee rates for sewer charges.
“And we are working on the fire service fee to save citizens substantially more,” he added.
Commissioner Matt Wright said there is exciting economic news and good news from Nashville. He said the City has been lobbying legislators to allow Lakeland to collect the fire fee instead of MLGW. “It passed the House recently and passed the Senate,” he said. “Now it awaits the Governor’s signature. We have a plan in place for a reduction of the fire fee,” he said.
During the Town Hall Meeting which preceded a public hearing and the regular business meeting, Tom Skehan, city planning director, said the tall McDonald’s sign on Canada Road and I-40 will be coming down by Sept. 20, maybe before. That is the same timeframe for the current McDonald’s to move from Canada Road to a new facility on U.S. Highway 64, just east of Walgreen’s.
Three citizens spoke during the Town Hall. Two about problems in their Bentbrooke Hills neighborhood. And one about continued lack of internet service in the Monroe Road area of Lakeland south of I-40.
Audra Ferguson and Dustin Smith asked the BOC for relief concerning pond construction in their neighborhood and a public walking trail that backs to subdivision homes. Heavy equipment is tearing up residential streets and Mr. Smith requested help in getting the streets repaved. He also asked for a fence to block students from going back to a public trail behind homes. They are riding ATVs on the trail and leaving junk on the trail and generally wreaking havoc. Mayor Bunker said the City Engineer and City Attorney are working on the problems, considering bollards to block access to the trail or a fence. “We are in the legal process on fixing the roads,” said Mayor Bunker. “It is our intention not to leave you with a patched road.”
Tom Hathaway asked for an update on his request to get reliable internet service in his neighborhood and questioned progress at The Lake District (TLD).
Mr. Atkinson mentioned three possibilities for internet relief in the Monroe Road neighborhood: AT&T which likely won’t do anything this year; Comcast; and the most difficult idea, he said, would be for the City to create its own utility internet.
Vice Mayor Josh Roman explained the current status of TLD, noting the new partner to the project, John Lowery, with financing and plans to start the project this calendar year.
A second ordinance, dealing with the Beer Board and its authority to grant or revoke beer permits, was approved on final reading.
The Sewer Commission approved a resolution recommending an extension request for the sewer concept plan for the Lake Forest Planned Development.
Six items on the consent agenda were approved. See agenda here: https://tn-lakeland.civicplus.com/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/659
A resolution authorizing the City Manager to issue special permits for consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages at IH Park was amended to exclude Lakeland Entertainment Group’s LAMP Fundraiser. The amended resolution for The LAMP Concert Series and the Tour de Lakeland was approved.
Doug Golden, representing Lakeland Entertainment Group, spoke to BOC members about the proposed project. Mayor Bunker said it is a great idea (to sponsor concerts at IH Park to fund outdoor restrooms). However, he said, it was presented to the Parks and Recreation Board this week and they were negative on approval. “There were concerns by counsel about liabilities and those have to be overcome, “he said.
“We don’t have an internal policy for using the stage area. We need internal controls in place,” said the Mayor. Mr. Golden said he wants to partner with the City. Commissioner Wright commended Mr. Golden about citizens partnering with the City to help meet needs. “It would be great to have restroom facilities at The LAMP,” he said. “But there are other things the City needs that are used on a daily basis.
The Mayor added, ”In short, we are really excited about it. The concerns are valid. We need internal controls. We are not opposed to talking to your group in the future.”
A resolution for a contract with Buchart Horn, Inc. for Clear Creek Sanitary Sewer Interceptor Phase A was amended to include the language, “Subject to final approval by the City Attorney.” That version was approved.
Also approved was amended funding between the City and the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce for 2016-2017 Fiscal Year. It increases the monthly funding to $1,500 and is retroactive to the beginning of the Fiscal Year. Brittney Buchanan was introduced as the new executive director for the Chamber.
… photos by Jim Willis, Lakeland Currents