Trustee Mike Smith says county growing

By ALLEN MINCEY Staff Writer
Posted 8/15/17

Bradley County continues to show growth, and this has led to more funds collected through the county Trustee’s Office.

Trustee Mike Smith told Bradley County commissioners Monday that while …

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Trustee Mike Smith says county growing

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Bradley County continues to show growth, and this has led to more funds collected through the county Trustee’s Office.

Trustee Mike Smith told Bradley County commissioners Monday that while local sales tax amounts are down just a bit in the most recent fiscal year totals, distributions were still growing. He said that Bradley County distributed $5,720,639 in sales tax in the 2016 fiscal year, an increase from the $5,454,550.

Tax revenue for 2016 was over $43.5 million, over $3 million more than in 2015 These revenues, including taxes from real property, personal property and utilities, increased steadily since 2005.

“Once again, that is showing the growth we are seeing in Bradley County,” Smith said.

An issue that pleased members of the commission was the amount of money amassed for the Health Community Initiative funds. A new method of investment of funds showed the county will have $102,555 available for grants (taking into account the 15 percent that must be withheld, per the agreement in the sale of Bradley Memorial Hospital, and $100,000 estimated in Cleveland-Bradley County Library bond payments).

“We should have that (funding) available at the end of June 2018, and, it could be a little higher,” Smith said.

The trustee said a program his office has taken to heart, and has proven to be quite successful, is the partial payment plan, where taxpayers may span their payments out from October to February. He said that the program has been approved not only by the county commission, but also by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, and he thanked entities promoting the program, including the Cleveland Daily Banner.

Most who utilize the partial payment program are the elderly; disabled veterans; and disabled residents, but Smith said the program is available to all. Commissioner Charlotte Peak added businesses also benefit.

The sales tax numbers presented by Smith led some county commissioners to question the city’s decision to raise the property tax rate. While Bradley County received just under $5 million in sales tax in 2016, the city of Cleveland’s revenue from the sales tax was $32,273,509.

Smith added that electronic billing saw 13,851 pay their taxes online. He said that by 2022, he expects 38 percent of all parcels will be paid electronically.

“The benefits of electronic billing [include] reduced labor, printing and mailing costs,” Smith added, saying that it the not-so-distant future, the Trustee’s Office could possibly be operated by as few as two people due to this type of billing.

“Before the end of the year, I expect to see a continued increase in the Fed fund rate creating more earned interest for the (Bradley County) General Fund, capital project fund, school funds and HCI grants,” Smith told the commissioners.

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