Smyrna budget issues: residents may see higher utility bills by July but no tax hike (2024)

  • Smyrna officials expect to pay cash for projects but can borrow funds if needed for projects such as plans to build 6 tennis courts and 6 pickleball courts at Cedar Stone Park
  • Town boasts second lowest property tax rate in Rutherford
  • Town pursues many road projects, including added lanes at Sam Ridley Parkway and Old Nashville Highway
  • Town's Intelligent Transportation seeks better timed traffic lights
  • Smyrna government and utility services plan to add 14 jobs

Smyrna residents may see their utility bills rise while property taxes remain the same starting July 1.

The elected Smyrna Town Council will consider the proposed natural gas and water-and -sewer bill increases from Assistant Town Manager Rex Gaither during a pending meeting as part of approving budget plans for the next fiscal year that starts July 1.

The average monthly residential customer bill for water and sewer would climb by $3.22 while the average monthly natural gas bill for heat would go up by $1.05. When combining both averages, the total average monthly costs would increase by $4.27, which would be $51.24 for the year.

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Although utility fees are increasing, Gaither touted that fast-growing Smyrna will have no property tax hike while still pursuing many capital improvement projects, including for roads and the Fire Station 4 the town is building on West Jefferson Pike between Nissan Drive and Interstate 840.

The town also has plans to use impact fees on development to fund a $1.4 million ladder truck for Fire Department, Gaither said.

Smyrna budget issues: residents may see higher utility bills by July but no tax hike (1)

"We anticipate being able to pay for all of these in cash," said Gaither, who's also the town's finance director. He's part of a government providing services for a town that reached a U.S. Census count of 56,516 residents July 2022.

The fire station project is nearly $9.4 million, and the town has grant funding to cover 80% of the costs, Gaither said.

The town government also funded a $38 million for the waste water treatment plant expansion, Gaither said.

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Town can borrow for projects if needed

Smyrna budget issues: residents may see higher utility bills by July but no tax hike (2)

Other planned projects involve many road projects, such as $3.95 million to add through lanes at the busy Sam Ridley Parkway intersection at Old Nashville Highway. The town also has a $1.6 million project to build six tennis courts and six pickleball courts at the Cedar Stone Park on the southwest side near Stewarts Creek schools.

The town is able to pay cash for projects through charging impact fees on development, winning grants and building up strong reserves, such as $37.1 million in the next budget, Gaither suggested.

If necessary, the town could borrow $20 million to help fund projects while maintaining the top AAA Moody's bond rating and improving on the second best bond rating of AA+ rating from Standard & Poor's, Gaither said.

Smyrna Mary Esther Reed praised Gaither and the city staff on budgeting efforts that show citizens :"how strong financially we are here at the town of Smyrna."

"We're able to pay so much in cash, and we don’t have a lot of debt out there and that we’re able to do so many projects," Reed said.

Smyrna budget issues: residents may see higher utility bills by July but no tax hike (3)

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Town boasts second lowest property tax rate in Rutherford

Smyrna budget issues: residents may see higher utility bills by July but no tax hike (4)

Gaither also told the council that Smyrna will retain the second lowest property tax rate in Rutherford County followed by Eagleville.

The following property tax rates are charged per $100 per assessed value, which 25% of appraisal value for residential real estate and 40% of appraisal value for commercial real estate:

  • Rutherford County: $1.8762, following a 16.1% tax hike this fiscal year
  • Murfreesboro: $0.9526
  • La Vergne: $0.5363
  • Smyrna: $0.5257
  • Eagleville: $0.4051

The owner of a Smyrna home appraised at $334,600 would pay an annual property tax bill of nearly $440 for town government services. The $334,600 was the Rutherford County median value a year ago out of 92,036 houses determined by the Rutherford County Property Assessor's Office.

Mayor Reed also boasted about her town retaining a property tax rate that's lower than the all the governments in Rutherford except for Eagleville.

“I hope the citizens feel like they are getting a real bang for their buck in regard for the taxes that they pay," Reed said.

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Town pursues many road projects

Smyrna plans funding for the following capital projects for roads in the next fiscal year that starts July 1:

  • Construction of added through lanes and turn lanes at Sam Ridley Parkway and Old Nashville Highway: nearly $3.95 million
  • Design for more turn lanes at Sam Ridley Parkway and Rock Springs Road: $300,000
  • Construction for Rocky Fork Almaville Road improvements: $1.6 million
  • Design work for shoulders, turn lanes and other safety improvements to Weakley Lane: $350,000
  • Design for Lee Road improvements for three-lane roadway section within town limits: $450,000
  • Design for Cooks Lane improvements for three-lane roadway section: $500,000
  • Design and construction for Enon Springs Road of sidewalks, million, paving and other safety improvements: $1.25 million
  • Design for Almaville Road improvements with a three-lane roadway section with sidewalks from Old Nashville Highway to Lee Victory Parkway: $350,000

Sources: Rex Gaither, Smyrna assistant town manager and finance director, and town spokeswoman Heather Kent

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Town's Intelligent Transportation seeks better timed traffic lights

In addition to road improvements, the town plans to provide $1.5 million from grant funding for the Intelligent Transportation System Phases 3, 4 and 5. ITS project will connect 25 traffic signals and 10 traffic cameras to Smyrna's existing ITS system, spokeswoman Heather Kent said.

The ITS system helps the town monitor traffic and make signal timing changes remotely from our Traffic Operations Center, Kent said.

"Currently, there are 38 signals on our ITS system," Kent said.

The town government also plans to spend $750,000 on design costs for a traffic calming project on Front Street.

"Some traffic calming elements may include speed humps, lane narrowing, warning lights, additional stop signs, etc.," Kent said. "Theproject will be designed in concert with the Washington Street Pedestrian Project to help discourage speeding along Front Street between Division Street and College Street."

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Smyrna government and utility services plan to add 14 jobs

The town expects to start the next fiscal year with a balanced budget covered by $63.1 million in revenues. The operating budget will be $51.8 million. The expenditures are expected to be about $63 million after transferring $11 million in capital projects funds and debt service funds of $230,540.

About 55% of the budget is for public safety with the Police Department covering about 30% and the Fire Department being 25%, Gaither said.

About 68.8% of budget is personnel while 0.4% is debt service, Gaither said.

The town's government budget will add 11 jobs, including six full-time:

  • Police officers: three
  • Crime analyst: one
  • Lead grounds keeper for Parks and Recreation Department: one
  • Grant writer for Finance Department: one

The budget plan for the government also adds five part-time jobs: grounds keeper for Parks and Recreation Department; and two wait staff positions, dish washer and cook for Smyrna Event Center.

The town's Water/Waste Water Maintenance Division expects to add three jobs: two leak technicians and an inventory clerk.

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Smyrna budget issues: residents may see higher utility bills by July but no tax hike (2024)
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