Opinion polls show most property owners, me included, dislike paying property taxes. I try to think of it as an investment in my community. This investment pays for essential services such as public education, law enforcement, EMS, the Health Department, the county court system, salaries, office supplies, the county road department, the public library and many other things that contribute to Bradley County’s quality of life.
Property taxes make up 42.4 percent of the total annual revenue collected in the county. This does not include state funds sent to the county school system. The property tax revenue is then divided between various departments and projects. Fifty-eight percent is designated for schools with a portion going to city schools and a portion to county schools.
Twenty-five percent is designated for the county’s General Fund which pays for the day-to-day operation of county government. The Road Department receives 7 percent while the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library receives 2 percent of the property tax. Three percent is designated for debt service on the Bradley County Jail and Juvenile Center. The balance is used for Community Development and capital projects.
The rest of the county’s annual budget comes from fees, licenses and the sales tax which fluctuates with the economy. This is why a stable source of income, such as the property tax, is so important to the efficient operation of your county government.
Property tax statements are sent to each property owner by the County Tax Assessor in October. Taxes are paid to the Bradley County Trustee’s Office and are considered delinquent if not paid by March 1. You can pay your property taxes online, by mail or in person at the County Trustee’s Office, located on the first floor of the Bradley County Courthouse.
The office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you prefer to drop it in the mail, the address is: Bradley County Trustee, 155 N. Ocoee St. Room 104, Cleveland TN 37311. Make your check payable to Bradley County Trustee. To pay by credit card online, log on to www.tennesseetrustee.com.
Bradley County is blessed with good law enforcement and fire protection, good schools, and our EMS and EMA departments are considered among the best in Tennessee. The county’s community development is outstanding, attracting such industries as Wacker and Amazon, while retaining Whirlpool as a major part of our manufacturing base. These things would not be possible without the payment of property taxes.
While the property tax may be an easy target of complaint, I am proud that Bradley County still has a tax rate that is among the lowest in the state. As mayor, I have never proposed a property tax increase, yet we have been fortunate through the years to increase services to the community. This year we are building three new fire halls that will be staffed 24/7 and improve fire protection to county residents.
The property tax pays dividends because it stays in Bradley County and supports the community’s quality of life. So when you write your check to the County Trustee, try to think of it as an investment in schools, public safety and economic growth. It is essential in making Bradley County “Tennessee at its best.”