Williamson County’s $650 million 2021-22 budget that includes a significant drop in the property tax rate passed through one last hoop on Tuesday before a final vote next week.
The Williamson County Board of Commissioners Budget Committee approved the 2021-22 budget of $650,431,207 — nearly $21 million, or 3.33%, over the “status-quo” budget the county passed last year, which essentially equaled the prior year’s budget plus an amount accounting for school growth.
The committee also approved the county’s certified property tax rate of $1.75 and a resolution to exceed that rate for an actual property tax rate of $1.88.
With a larger proposed budget and a reduced proposed tax rate compared to last year, the county numbers reflect what the housing market already knows: the county’s property values have boomed this year.
This year, a reappraisal year, Williamson County was determined to have about $65 billion in assessed property value, up from about $30 billion a decade ago. This puts the county fourth in the state for total assessed property value, according to Williamson County Property Assessor Brad Coleman.
With every reappraisal year comes a certified tax rate, Coleman noted, which is a revenue-neutral tax rate, meaning it would bring in the same amount of revenue as the prior year, accounting for the new assessed value of the county.
“Keep in mind that the whole purpose of the reappraisal is to bring about equity throughout the county,” Coleman said at a meeting last month. “The county can’t bring in extra revenue just because of the reappraisal itself. That would have to be proposed by the commission on a rate that exceeds the certified tax rate.”
Indeed, the proposed tax rate is 13 cents higher, at $1.88. If approved by the full commission, this new property tax rate would apply to every $100 of assessed value.
Assessed value can be calculated by multiplying the appraised value of a property by the assessment ratio, which is 25% for residential and farm properties. A property valued at $500,000 ($125,000 of assessed value) would then pay $2,350 in property taxes, for example.
The current property tax rate is $2.22 per $100 of assessed value, so while the proposed rate is a lower number, that doesn’t necessarily mean property owners will pay less in taxes, considering the increase in property values this year.
Back in 2016, the last reappraisal year, the board approved a tax rate of $2.15, which was 34 cents (or 18.8%) higher than that year’s certified tax rate. This year’s proposed 13-cent bump above the certified rate represents a 7.3% increase.
The revenue from the proposed $1.88 tax rate breaks down to the following distribution:
• The county general fund would receive 38 cents of every $1.88
• The general purpose school fund would receive $1.09
• The general debt service fund would receive 22 cents
• The rural debt service fund would receive 14 cents
• The solid waste and sanitation fund would receive 5 cents
Under the proposed budget, this property tax rate would bring in about $300.82 million in revenue, making up the majority of local tax revenue, projected to total about $470 million.
About 74.3% of the proposed budget would be funded by local taxes, with state funds contributing about 24.3% and federal funds the remaining 1.4%.
The $650 million budget includes a general purpose school fund of $414,579,134. Including the schools’ portions of other funds, roughly 76% of the proposed budget is earmarked for education, which Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson said shows the county’s priorities.
“[For] everybody that pays money, 76% goes towards public education. You go back 30 years ago, 20 years ago, … it used to be 58%, 59%, 60%, and over the years, it’s gone up,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons people move here is because of education and the amount of money we put in.”
Anderson also said the county has “manageable, workable” debt numbers, sharing that by not having any bonds financed over more than 20 years, the county aims to avoid “strapping down the next generation.”
Nena Graham, the county’s director of budget and purchasing, shared that as of June 30, the county’s total debt service was $818.77 million, and over $478 million (59.5%) will be paid off within the next 10 years.
View the full proposed 2021-22 budget at www.WilliamsonCounty-TN.gov/DocumentCenter/View/21521/2022Budget. The board of commissioners will meet for a final vote on these items at 9 a.m. Monday, July 12, at the Williamson County Administrative Complex.