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Taxes, utilities on the rise in Covington

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As in years past, Covington residents can soon expect to see an increase in taxes and utility fees. 

Passing on their first approval Tuesday afternoon, four proposals will increase the sewer, water and solid waste fees and the property tax rate. 

Part of a proposed $22 million budget for fiscal year 2015, the tax rate will increase  to $1.33 per $100 of assessed valuation. It also increased four cents in 2013.

Mayor David Gordon said this year's increase was prompted by a reappraisal. 

"The reason for the increase this year is due to this being a reappraisal year. $1.33 is the certified tax rate so that that revenue is equal to last year. It could have gone down if appraisal values had been higher than the last appraisal."

And because the industrial sector isn't using as much water and sewer as it once was, residents' rates will increase to help close the gap. 

Water rates will increase by 3 percent, and sewer by 4, bringing in an estimated $121,000 more revenue. 

Solid waste rates are set to increase to $26 per month for residential customers with roll-out carts, which is an estimated $84,000 more revenue than FY14. Fees for additional carts will increase from $10 to $11 per month, a move that Alderman Tommy Black said he was uncomfortable with at Tuesday's meeting. 

"I'm not in favor of this $1 jump on the additional container fee until I can talk to (public works director) Robert Martin Simpson first." 

Black did not specify his disagreement with the charge, however. 

Gordon said the large amount of woody waste, and the overtime paid to employees to help clear the large amount of storm debris this year, have necessitated an increase in fees in FY2015. 

The budget proposal includes $7,563,800 in local tax revenue, $1,574,105 in intergovernmental revenue and a combined $3,642,462 for the public safety department. 

Budgets for the city pool and the Frazier Building have increased as well, accounting for utlities in the coming year as the pool is enclosed and the Boys & Girls Club of the Hatchie River Region, set to open on Aug. 11, begins its operation. 

"We try to be conservative each budget cycle by estimating expenses somewhat on the high side and revenues on the low side," Gordon said. "It is not good government to spend more than you have." 

The next budget hearing will take place on July 22 at 5:30 p.m. 

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