By TIM COKER
The Portland City Council met on Monday, June 25 at the Fred J. White Municipal Building. The item on the agenda that generated the most discussion was a proposal to raise the certified tax rate for the City of Portland by twenty cents during the 2018-19 fiscal year.
This property tax increase would be earmarked to fund the hiring of 12 new firefighters and two new police officers for the Public Safety Department.
As with all city council meetings, the public was given the opportunity to speak on any item on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. The only citizen to speak on the proposed budget was Curtis Grove.
“I wish it to be unanimous tonight to get [Fire Chief] Al [West] his firemen in one lick,” Grove said. “Someone told me one time that if something is only half good enough, then it’s good enough for here. That sometimes holds true.”
Grove then followed up his comment with two quotes he encouraged the Council to write down.
“Good is the enemy of great, and mediocracy is very expensive.”
The 2018-19 budget, including the tax increase, was passed on a 5-1 vote with Alderwoman Beverly Watson voting no. Alderman Jody McDowell was absent from the meeting.
“I voted no due to the fact that it required a 20-cent tax increase that I disagreed with. I think we could have funded six (firefighters) now and had the additional six as a priority that could be funded with growth,” Watson explained to Sumner Home Page after the meeting.
“We took a pretty historical vote tonight. We decided to fully staff a full-time fire department,” Vice-Mayor Mike Callis shared as the meeting came to a close. “We get to hire two police officers to do drug interdiction. It was a pretty powerful vote, and I appreciate it.”
The newly-approved budget pushes the property tax rate for the Sumner County area of Portland to $1.41 and the Robertson County area of Portland to $1.11.