Could a tax increase fund aging school facilities? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Could a tax increase fund aging school facilities?

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN -

The cracks in Hamilton County School's aging facilities continue to grow as elected officials decide who and how the bill will be paid for.

Two-hundred million dollars, that's how much Hamilton County School's said they need in deferred maintenance funding.

Some board members questioned why the county can fund a 100 million dollar project to build a new jail, but not fix schools.

The funding needs from schools is a figure Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger describes as "astronomical."

"None of us want to have to build a jail, we would much rather spend the money on education. However we have responsibilities that we have to do both,” Mayor Coppinger said.

One way to gather funds could be a tax increase, but some say that's not something they want to see happen.

2005 was the last time residents saw a tax increase for schools, it's an option some school board members like Karitsa Jones said the county should explore.

"We can't operate in 2017, on money that was allocated for the last time in 2005,” Jones said.

Over the last several years Mayor Coppinger said the county has found ways to cut 13 million dollars in the budget without raising taxes. Members are now searching for different ways to fund these projects.

Channel 3 asked the mayor if he would consider a tax increase.

"We will continue to be conservative, and very considerate in raising people’s taxes. Once you do that it has to be an absolute last resort to do that,” he responded.

Raising taxes might not be favorable to all, but some parents say it's worth the investment.

"I’m a property tax payer so I probably wouldn't like. I’m just saying at the end of the day, if it's going to benefit my future child to have a better education in public school, you can look at other ways it might not be property tax,” Jones added.

Both the commission and board of education said they hope to create a strategic plan to avoid funding problems like this in the future.

School board members will continue budget discussions during a finance committee meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.

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