Local News

Story published: 05-07-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Town’s biggest property taxpayers


By Kristen Swing
Executive Editor

While hundreds of shoppers file in and out of Lowe’s each week to buy items needed for a quick repair or a major renovation, the 4-year-old store in Jonesborough is making its own improvements – to the tax base in Tennessee’s oldest town.

Lowe’s pays roughly $18,500 to the town each year in property taxes, contributing more money to the town tax rolls than any other business or individual property owner. The company’s Jonesborough store has a taxable assessed valuation of a little more than $3.6 million.

Taxes are paid on the property itself as well as on any equipment that is used for a business.

“It includes anything you use in your business, from desks and computers to shelving,” said Abbey Miller, town recorder.

Business properties are taxed at 40 percent of their assessed value compared to residential properties, which are taxed at 25 percent.

“It’s the same tax rate for both, but it’s taxed at a higher assessment value (for businesses),” Miller explained.

The property tax rate in Jonesborough is $1.2810 for every $100 of property.

Last year marked the first time the home improvement store topped the list of principal property taxpayers in Jonesborough.

In previous years, Excel Polymers, a maker of elastomeric solutions, has claimed that No. 1 spot. Excel Polymers, which has been operating in Jonesborough since the 1970s, pays roughly $18,242 per year in town property taxes based on an assessed valuation of $3.56 million.

Wolfe Development, a home building company owned by Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, rounds out the top three property taxpayers in town. The company also owns several business properties.

“There’re several developers on the list (of top 10 principal taxpayers),” Miller said. “That shows you how important individual developers are here whereas in Johnson City, you are going to see more industry on the list. We depend so much on individuals and not as much on industry.”

While Miller said more industry “would be nice,” to help diversify the types of business paying property taxes, there’s not likely to be a huge increase in that realm.

“There’s just not enough left of Jonesborough for a major industry to come in. It’s going to have to be more retail related like most of those that have come in,” she said. “If you went back 10 years and looked at this list, you wouldn’t see the Lowe’s, the Ingle’s. You see the growth when you look back at the top 10 and see what is new on the list.”

That’s good news for town residents.

“You don’t want to be dependent on any one taxpayer,” Miller explained. “If one taxpayer made up 15-20 percent of your tax base, that wouldn’t be good.”

Instead, in Jonesborough, the entire top 10 list makes up less than 16 percent of the property tax base.

“That shows we are not dependent on any one taxpayer. It’s a testimony to the way the (Board of Mayor and Aldermen) have gotten new businesses in here,” Miller said. “And thank goodness for all the development along (Highway) 11E over the last couple of years. That has really helped our tax base.”

Interestingly, while Lowe’s may be the principal taxpayer in Jonesborough, that doesn’t make it the top property owner in the town.

“I’d say that’s the county. They have the jail, two courthouses, the schools,” Miller said. “But governments don’t pay any tax. They do bring in a good bit on utilities — water and sewer ­— though.”