CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some call it Clarksville‘s biggest problem. “We’re committed to improving the infrastructure in our community,” said Mayor Joe Pitts.
Now with the help of taxpayers, the city is planning a nearly half-billion-dollar transportation infrastructure overhaul.
"There was no way to do an aggressive infrastructures project or program like this without additional revenue,” said Pitts.
To do so, the city passed a 20-cent property tax increase that will go towards things like sidewalks, roads, lighting and bridges. It raises the city's property tax to $1.23 per $100 of assessed value- an increase from the previous $1.0296. It was the city's first increase in more than a decade.
“The average valuation of a home in Clarksville is $166,000 and we did the numbers and it’s about a $7 per month increase in their property tax bill,” said Pitts.
The plan stirred debate among residents and even the city’s own council, but it was eventually passed as part of the city’s budget.
“I feel like we didn’t scrub our budget before we looked at raising it and our city administration gave us an all or nothing,” said Ward 8 Councilperson, Wanda A. Allen. She was one of five council members who voted against the budget, which included the tax increase. “There was no compromise, there was no collaboration.”
She argues the city is spending on other things that could be going to the transportation plan. “I just believe there are things in our budget that we could have looked at a little different and maybe said 'let’s make some cuts.'”
Regardless of their differences, both sides agree it's an issue the growing city must confront, despite who pays for it. Construction projects will be broken into three phases, or "tiers." Tier 1 may begin as soon as next spring.