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Putnam Commission Chair: Unsure Where Tax Increase Perception Was Formed

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam Commission Chair: Unsure Where Tax Increase Perception Was Formed

Putnam County Commission Chair Ben Rodgers said educating new commissioner’s on how the county handles debt will be a focus moving forward.

That after the Park View School bond was denied by commissioners in a 12 to 12 vote this week. Several commissioners voiced concern about the bond increasing taxes even though the proposal did not include one.

Rodgers said he thinks some new commissioners may not be familiar with how the county’s debt funding works.

“I don’t know where the perception was that this would cause a tax increase,” Rodgers said. “They asked Mayor Porter. They asked myself. They asked a couple other people if this would cause a tax increase. Based on the numbers we ran, no. We have the debt capacity to take on another one million dollars in payments.”

Several commissioners also voiced concern about the future economy. Rodgers said he wanted commissioners to understand that the county has an excess of sales tax revenue available. Rodgers said the county has historically used that money for capital projects, but if a recession came, that money could instead be used for debt services.

“What I was trying to let them know was we’ve had six to 10 million dollars extra of sales tax money every year coming in that we were able to free up and use for capital projects,” Rodgers said. “Worse comes to worst and the economy goes down and sales tax drops 20 percent, then we don’t do as many capital projects. We just delay them and find another way to fund them. So therefore, we are not causing a tax increase by issuing new debt.”

Rodgers said he was not advocating for the school project. Rodgers said he just wanted commissioners to know the facts leading up to the vote.

“That’s something I am going to work with Mayor Porter on hopefully going forward when we get before the budget process starts in April that we may have some work sessions to make sure our commissioners new and older ones understand the flow of money in Putnam County,” Rodgers said.


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