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Chief says fire board could ‘change its mind’ on tax increase

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Public hearing is 6:30 tonight on Wildcat Road

By BEN CARLSON

Pat Krogman, chief of the Anderson County Fire District, said Tuesday that a proposed 38-percent tax increase he and others have spent the past several weeks promoting might not happen when the district’s board holds a public hearing at 6:30 tonight at Station 1 on Wildcat Road.

“The board could actually change its mind,” Krogman said while explaining that while the board isn’t required to hold a public hearing, it is doing so, in part, to explain the reason it decided to pursue the large increase.

Krogman said the board previously voted to “propose the increase,” and will not conduct a final vote until after it hears public comments tonight.

The proposed increase has drawn considerable criticism and praise since the district announced its intentions several weeks ago.

Also on Tuesday, Judge-Executive Orbrey Gritton publically came out against the increase, but said an opinion he requested and received from the state attorney general’s office clarified that neither his office nor the fiscal court have the power to overturn the increase.

He also confirmed that, according to the attorney general’s opinion, previous statements by the fire chief and others that voters could overturn the increase in a public referendum cannot be done.

Gritton went so far as to say that he’s even questioned if the fiscal court, which created the fire district in the early 1980s, could disband it.

Gritton said the law only laws that sort of action if the fire district were doing a poor job.

“That’s not the case,” Gritton said.

The proposed increase would increase the fire district's property tax rate for those living outside of the city from 72 cents per $1,000 in assessed value to $1, the highest rate allowed by law. That means fire taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 would go from $72 a year to $100, a 38-percent increase.