Soddy-Daisy tax hike to pay for firefighters and roads - WSMV Channel 4

Soddy-Daisy tax hike to pay for firefighters and roads

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SODDY DAISY, TN (WRCB) -

If you live in Soddy-Daisy, get ready to pay more in property tax. The city commission approved an increase at Thursday night's meeting.

The commission approved a property tax hike from one dollar to now $1.35. The average cost of a house in Soddy-Daisy is around $125,000. That means you'll owe about $422 a year. That's $110 more than with the old rate, or about $9 dollars a month extra. But city officials hope residents will be pleased with how they plan to spend the extra revenue.

City Finance Director Burt Johnson says for years, Soddy-Daisy's property tax rate has stayed lower than surrounding cities. Thursday night, commission agreed unanimously to raise it.

"It's been needed for a long time," Soddy-Daisy Finance Director Burt Johnson said.

What will your extra money pay for? For starters, five paid full-time firefighters including a chief, and several part-timers will be added. Soddy-Daisy's only ever had a volunteer fire department.

"The status of getting volunteers period, is harder than it was 20 years ago," Johnson said.

Johnson says the volunteer fire chief reports for every 10 volunteers they get, all but two drop out within a few years. The other problem, of the ones who do stay, most work outside of Soddy-Daisy during the day and it's up to only those who are in town to respond. Several are police officers, who can't always drop what they're doing.

"We don't want a shortage and having some paid firefighters for day time hours is going to be a great benefit for the city," Soddy-Daisy Police Chief Phillip Hamrick said.

But, that won't take all of the extra money, most will go toward re-surfacing main and secondary roads, and other projects like replacing traffic signals.

"With the property tax being so low, they've fallen way behind on maintenance of streets," Johnson said.

No property owners we talked to were excited to pay a higher tax, but several are about the services it's supposed to provide.

"Over a 30-percent increase is a little uncalled for. Kind of sad to hear it, but we do need roads paved and we do need extra firefighters that I'm hoping they'll put on board," Soddy-Daisy resident Valentine Davis said.

The extra money will also go into the five local parks for upkeep and new playground equipment.

Soddy-Daisy's volunteer fire department has a Class 3 rating. If it drops any, residents would have to pay more on home insurance. With the paid firefighters, Johnson says they'll be able to maintain that rating, and possibly go up a notch if they're able to keep adding staff. That could mean paying less on home insurance.

He says it will take a few months before they hire the firefighters. Your first property tax bill with the increased rate will come in October.

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