Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

BMA ups property tax

After more than a decade of discussions on the need for a new senior center, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed that the time is right to build a new facility.
Following a public hearing Aug. 29, the BMA voted in favor of a 10 cent property tax increase to fund the project.
The tax rate increase from $1.18 to $1.28 puts Jonesborough second to Erwin’s 94 cents for the lowest property taxes in the area.
According to Town Recorder Abbey Miller, a homeowner whose property is appraised at $100,000 would pay an additional $25 a year.
As it stands, the proposed center will be 11,820 square feet and will cost approximately $2 million. An additional 5,000 square feet of unfinished space will also be added, but won’t be completed until a later date.
The center’s proposed location is the property just off East Main Street currently occupied by the city garage.
Last week, the BMA hosted a public forum at the Jonesborough Visitors Center that was attended by a standing-room-only crowd. During that meeting, and again at the BMA meeting on Aug. 29, the majority of those who spoke strongly supported a new senior center but opposed a tax hike.
Several citizens offered suggestions of using existing empty structures, such as the old White’s grocery store, for the center, an alternative, they said, that would be more cost effective.
Alderman Chuck Vest cast the only dissenting vote on the tax increase issue, saying that while he agrees with the need for a new senior center he feels the board should find another way to fund it.
“We need to slow down,” Vest said. “We have the funds and we have some debt falling off that will help us. I’m convinced we can build without raising taxes.”
Both Alderman Terry Countermine and Alderman Mary Gearhart expressed the opposite view and supported the tax increase. Alderman Jerome Fitzgerald was absent from the meeting.
“It (the center) doesn’t have to be on that property and it doesn’t have to be that building,” Countermine said. “I would be willing to negotiate the rate of the increase, but we’ve been talking about this for 10 years.
“I am for this. I’m for some form of revenue to get the senior center. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do.”
Gearhart’s campaign platform included prioritizing the construction of a new senior center. “We’ve discussed this for over 10 years,” she said.
“The current building isn’t good for people or parking. After the forum, after all this time, with the current rate of interest, it’s the right time and the right thing to do.”