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City tax of $1.36 gains support

By DAVID MELSON - dmelson@t-g.com
Posted 3/14/23

Shelbyville City Council voted unanimously at Thursday night’s March meeting to return the city property tax rate to $1.36 per $100 of assessed value.

City Attorney Ginger Shofner reminded …

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City tax of $1.36 gains support


Shelbyville City Council voted unanimously at Thursday night’s March meeting to return the city property tax rate to $1.36 per $100 of assessed value.

City Attorney Ginger Shofner reminded the council that the tax rate must be based on next fiscal year’s finalized budget to be completed in June. That makes Thursday’s vote largely symbolic, since a tax rate for next fiscal year can’t be officially reset based on this year’s budget.

Council member Henry Feldhaus proposed the $1.36 rate. He pointed out that in February the newly elected council members supported a $1.48 rate.

“I believe the voters in November spoke clearly by electing the slate of candidates whose clear campaign message was lower taxes,” Feldhaus read from a written statement. “I believe the November voters are expecting the tax rate of $1.36.”

“I will not vote for the $1.48 rate because I believe we should support the lower rate” which Feldhaus says voters were promised and expected. “We should not allow a ‘bait and switch’ game of politics to fool the voters.”

Feldhaus said the $1.59 tax rate in place for the past two years “provided the city with revenues to fund the recent 231 Industrial Park announcements  with high paying jobs and the largest capital investments in Shelbyville’s history. We funded the Duksan announcement, purchased the property for the new TCAT, and bought the property for the new MTSU Aviation college. We were able to pay cash for these economic development initiatives.”

The statement touted the potential well-paying jobs to be available for area residents as a result.

“I believe if the City of Shelbyville continues to invest in our economic development team with the already proven results, we will able to continue to lower the tax rate to my goal of 95 cents,” Feldhaus said.

“I want to reduce the growth burden on residential property taxes. I want to see commercial development and higher sales tax collections carry the city’s future needs. This can be accomplished by a few smart decisions by this City Council in cooperation with Bedford County government.

Feldhaus also issued a challenge to Shelbyville landlords, who he said raised rents because of the rate increase, to lower them as a result of the decrease.

“I encourage the renters, especially the ones who protested loudly in 2021, to notify this council as their rents are lowered.”

“Last month the council members voted on that $1.48 (tax rate) with caution to make sure that were covering the expenses budgeted for the city for the next year before we went back down to $1.36,” Mayor Randy Carroll said.

Council member Marilyn Ewing asked City Treasurer Kay Parker if a tax rate lower than $1.48 is feasible. “We have a large fund balance right now,” Parker replied. “It depends on where your expenditures are at.”

Ewing also noted that renters won’t necessarily report rent reductions to the council.

“From the landlords’ aspect of it, it was very obvious who led the charge,” Feldhaus said, referring to campaign signs and posters paid for by James Farrar, who owns rental properties in Shelbyville. “I talked to him extensively. He was very much in favor of keeping it at $1.36. His renters that got stirred up came to the public hearings for this saying their rents were going up because we were raising taxes. So, the reverse of that, if we are lowering taxes I would like to see rents go down. I would like to bet some money to that effect that I don’t hear from any of those renters.”

Feldhaus also said the city has “an ample fund balance that should last us several years” and can easily withstand a tax rate decrease.

In other actions Thursday:

Tax split

The city is looking toward a new agreement on how it and Bedford County split sales taxes.

Taxes are currently being split through an old agreement from several years ago. City Manager Scott Collins is suggesting Shelbyville officials ask for meetings with Bedford County leaders before taking any further action.

There was no discussion on details of proposed changes in the split.

Access road payment

A payment of $290,844.92 to complete the city’s right-of-way acquisition costs for the new access road at 231 North Industrial Park was approved.

The funds will be transferred from the State Road Projects fund and are in addition to the city’s initial payment of $170,500 for a total payment of $461,344.04.

Shelbyville and the state each shared 50 percent of right of way costs.

The 231 North Oversight Committee approved the expense but recommended costs should be shared. City staff members will negotiate with “all interested parties” for possible reimbursement of some of those costs.


Two payments to organizations holding upcoming events were approved. All funds were generated by the hotel/motel tax designated for tourism.

The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association is being given $7,500 for two back-to-back events scheduled March 31-April 8 at Cooper Steel Arena. The group is permanently moving its Tennessee events to Shelbyville from Murfreesboro.

Southern Saddlebred Association will receive $3,500 for its Spring Fling show April 17-22 at Cooper Steel Arena.


Rezoning of 1.10 acres of land on Sevier Street to medium-high density residential, for proposed apartments, and 10.01 acres off Calsonic Way near the new Cartwright Elementary School to light industrial, for an access road, were approved on final reading.

Other actions

  • The council approved a resolution designating that approximately $6.5 million of public safety and public works in the city’s budget, which would normally be funded through the city’s general operating fund, be funded instead by funds received through the American Rescue Plan. The plan has been used by the federal government to aid cities and counties during the pandemic,
  • A reapportionment/redistricting plan and map were approved, making minor changes to city voting precincts until the early 2030s.
  • An updated planning and community development fee schedule was adopted on final reading.
  • An application for a Tennessee Small Cities Community Development Block Grant for sidewalk replacement and construction on Deery Street was authorized. Some council members were uncertain if Deery Street is a state highway and eligible for state funding. Deery Street is not a state highway at any point, although it does cross Madison Street, a state and federal highway.
  • The council also approved a grant application to several federal agencies for firefighting equipment.
  • A new position of City Director of Information Technology was approved, as was advertising for the position.
  • Carroll’s appointment of vice mayor William Christie to a two-year term as the council’s representative on the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership board was ratified by voice vote.

Council member Henry Feldhaus, who Christie replaces, remained silent.