Reported By Forrest Sanders
Clarksville residents are weighing new schools against higher taxes in Montgomery County. County leaders are taking the public's pulse on a tax hike.
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Twenty-six cents is all the talk in Montgomery County.
"There's a new term going on Wall Street that I like. It's called financially fragile. Our economy right now is financially fragile," said resident Curt Mize.
On Monday night, area residents are heading to the courthouse for a public hearing to discuss a proposed 26-cent property tax increase. Mize said he'll be there to say the 26 cents itself isn't the problem.
"The cost of the gasoline, the cost for the food, the cost for the electricity. Now it's easy for a commercial business to pass their costs on to the consumer. That's what we're going to do. It's going to cost them more," Mize said. "We're not absorbing the tax. We're going to pass that on. It's a lot more than just that 26 cents."
Instead, Mize wants to suggest easing the burden with a 13-cent tax increase this year and another 13 cent increase next year.
"People are still hurting. We are very, very fragile right now. If we push too hard, and I'm afraid this 26 cents is going to be a push too hard for this area, and I think it's going to crack," he said.
But budget committee officials said this is a necessary increase.
"We've got 54 buses we need to purchase. Many need replacements. Many have exceeded the 200,000 mile limit," said Tommy Valejos, budget committee member.
The majority of the property tax is set aside for the Clarksville-Montgomery County school system, including funding on two new elementary schools in addition to renovations to northwest high school.
"You know, I'm not a supporter of increasing anyone's taxes, but we're going to be wise stewards with the people's money," said Valejos. "It's going to be hard, and it's going to be tough. But I think we're at a crossroads of decisions that our commission is going to have to make on behalf of the citizens."