No one likes a tax increase, but they are sometimes necessary, says Doug Fisher, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga.
Such is the case with the 2020 Hamilton County budget proposed by School Superintendent Bryan Johnson, Sheriff Jim Hammonds and Mayor Jim Coppinger, which includes a $34 million tax increase for public education.
In a show of solidarity with the county’s public officials, the HBA’s Governmental Affairs Committee recently voted to support the proposed budget, which the association says will improve local schools and unlock more neighborhoods for home construction.
“There are entire areas of this county that are hard to build in because the local schools need academic improvement,” Fisher says. “Families with children do not want to purchase a home in those areas.”
Fisher says the tax increase will ultimately pay for itself. According to the Alliance for an Excellent Education, hitting the School Board’s Future Ready 2023 goal of a 90% graduation rate will greatly increase the ability of better educated graduates to be able to afford a new home for their families.
“We see this as an investment in all of our futures,” Fisher adds. “I can’t think of anything more fundamental to future growth than a safe and well-educated community.”
According to the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, the average home value in Hamilton County is $187,000. The increase proposed by Mayor Coppinger and Dr. Johnson would therefore cost the average homeowner less than $14 a month, Fisher says.
“Supporting Dr. Johnson and Mayor Coppinger may or may not be the right politics, but it is the right thing to do for the children and families of Hamilton County,” Fisher continues. “It’s also the right thing to do for the economic future of homebuilders, homeowners and the general public. The time to invest in public education is now.”
The commission will vote on Coppinger’s budget June 26.