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Study reveals Lebanon pays more taxes
Dec 10, 2004 12:00 am
According to a study recently provided to local lawmakers, Lebanon residents pay three times the amount of county property taxes as their neighbors in Mt. Juliet.
However, Lebanon city officials were unsure how they might use the new figures in the ongoing debate as to whether county government spends a disproportionate amount of its tax dollars in Mt. Juliet.
"It's surprising when you see it, although intellectually, you know it," Ward 6 City Councilor Kathy Warmath said. "You know that the City of Lebanon is funding a large part of the tax pot, so to speak, (but) it's just really impressive when you see exactly how much that is."
At the urging of the City Council and a handful of local residents, Lebanon finance officials compiled the data and provided their findings to councilors this week.
Lebanon Finance and Revenue Commissioner Hal Bittinger's figures indicated city residents pay roughly $15.5 million in county property taxes each year. Mt. Juliet residents pay an estimated $5.1 million in county land taxes, the report indicated.
One main point of contention in the county tax dollars debate is the fire service the county provides to Mt. Juliet.
Mt. Juliet itself does not have a fire department but provides county firefighters with a substation in the middle of the city as a base of operations.
The study shows Lebanon spends more than $2.5 million annually to fund the city's fire department. Mt. Juliet and Watertown, according to the study, do not allocate any annual funds for the provision of city-funded fire or ambulance services.
Instead, those cities' fire and ambulance needs are met by the county's annual expenditure of $5.19 million for the services.
The study revealed Lebanon also leads the way in sales tax revenue collections, raking in an average annual total of more than $7.5 million. Mt. Juliet creates approximately $1.6 million in sales tax dollars annually, and Watertown generates almost $44,000, according to information provided to city lawmakers.
Businesses in unincorporated Wilson County generate roughly $2.5 million each year, bringing the total average annual countywide collection to $11.62 million.
City property taxes in Lebanon create $2.3 million in revenue each year, and Watertown city property taxes create just over $115,000. Meanwhile, because of the absence of a city property tax rate in Mt. Juliet, the West Wilson city collects zero dollars in such fees.
Ward 1 City Councilor Carl Wood, who made the initial request for the figures, said he was not surprised by the report's findings.
"It's pretty much exactly what I felt like would be there," Wood said, adding there are no current plans to act on the findings of the study. " … I don't know what's next. This is just information to absorb right now, and we'll just have to see what to do with this, if anything."
"I just think the bottom line is we're producing a lot of wealth for this county, and we're putting it into the collection system," Warmath said. "I think the key thing is we just need to make sure that we're funding the things that we are able to benefit from – that's the whole discussion, the whole point of us talking about the equity issues."
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.