A recent Shelby County reappraisal increased Lakeland properties about 12 percent, but many in Lakeland won’t feel the pinch of increased property tax.
The Board of Commissioners tonight approved a resolution for a revenue-neutral tax rate which means most citizens will not see their property taxes go north.
Mayor Wyatt Bunker said the reappraisals could be a $186,000 positive fiscal impact for the City. However, Lakeland will adjust the tax rate to revenue neutral, maintaining current proceeds. “We need to start looking at ways we can give back to taxpayers. As economic conditions improve (in Lakeland), I believe our residents will see more of this.”
He noted some property owners may have increases greater than 12 percent and they will see a slight increase in total Lakeland property taxes they pay. The reverse holds for those whose property did not increase by 12 per cent. “This is a great effort for us to give back to our citizens,” he said.
Commissioner Matt Wright asked when the rate will be provided by the Shelby County Assessor of Property. City Manager Jim Atkinson said it would be in April with the rate adopted in June.
Mayor Bunker said it is the cities’ rights to exercise the option to keep the increase. He said however, reducing the tax rate to revenue-neutral sends a good message to new residents who might be moving to the City.
Commissioner Clark Plunk said this sends out a signal that Lakeland is moving in the right direction.
The Board accepted Michele Dial’s resignation from the BOC. Having served since October 2015, she said she is stepping down because of a decline in her father’s health.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Lakeland Commissioner,” said Mrs. Dial. “I am so proud to have been involved in all the positive changes and growth of our community! Our future is bright and to have been an instrumental part of setting that course is certainly gratifying. It is my duty however, to provide the care that is immediately necessary for my family. I will greatly miss everyone, and I hope that at some point, I will be able to volunteer and be active in our community again.”
The BOC also approved a special election to replace Mrs. Dial. The date will be May 25 with early voting two weeks before that date. Mr. Atkinson said the request for the election will be hand delivered to the Shelby County Election Commission tomorrow (3.10.17). He will then know the filing deadline for candidates.
The City charter requires a special election for the second vacancy on the Board. Matt Wright was recently appointed to replace Sherri Gallick who moved out of town in February.
On first reading of a sewer ordinance, there was a bit of discussion about the proposed tier rates and a phasing in program for increased sewer user rates. Vice Mayor Josh Roman twice made amendments to the ordinance, asking first for a three-year phase in plan (defeated) and then a two-year phase in plan (defeated.) The ordinance was approved on a three to one vote (Mr. Roman voting against) but Mr. Atkinson said the matter can be revisited. He suggested a special meeting April 6 or earlier if necessary.
Mr. Roman suggested that with a phased in plan of increases, new neighborhoods and new residents could help pay for the capital needed for sewer work. Emily Harrell, city engineer, noted that her projections include some of the new residential approved for Lakeland.
Mr. Wright was selected to be the liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board, replacing Mrs. Dial.
In Mr. Atkinson’s report, he reviewed the Shelby County Commission $25,000 grant for new gateway signs, impending road closures on Beverle Rivera Drive and Brunswick Road, capital improvement projects, litter report and road repair and maintenance. (All these reports can be viewed in separate stories on the Lakeland Currents website.)
Dates for The LAMP concerts were announced: May 20, June 24, July 22, Aug. 26, Sept.23 and Oct. 28. Bands will be announced at a later date, said Mr. Atkinson. Mr. Plunk asked how much the bands are paid. Mr. Atkinson said the City is hiring a sound man so fees to bands will be $1,200 to $1,500. Mayor Bunker said a rumor circulated that bands were paid $20,000 each, which is not the case.
All items on the consent agenda were approved as written with one exception. The site development contract for The Pet Hospitals’ new building was amended to be subject to sign off by the City attorney and the attorney for the project.
Resident Arnie Holcomb spoke to the BOC with continued commentary about Commissioner Clark Plunk. (Mr. Holcomb addressed the Board last week.) He was allowed to speak for three minutes and said he would return as many times as it takes for him to finish his presentation.
As requested by City Planner Tom Skehan, the BOC authorized the Mayor to name March 25 as Arbor Day in the City. There will be a special KLB (Keep Lakeland Beautiful) project that day behind the City Hall Park.
The meeting was on Livestream again and Mr. Atkinson said 113 viewers had clicked the link since the first showing a week ago.
… photos by Jim Willis, Lakeland Currents.