Erlanger votes to enact resilience fund, lower property taxes

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The Erlanger City Council voted to enact a special resiliency fund in the city’s budget and institute new property tax rates at a special legislative meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting was held specifically to vote on these measures and the new fiscal year’s wage scale for city employees, which also passed.

The new tax rates are as follows:

  • New real property tax rate: $0.248/$100 of property valuation
  • New personal property tax rate: $0.198/$100 of property valuation

These rates are reductions for both real property and personal property from the previous year:

  • Former real property tax rate: $0.301/$100 of property valuation
  • Fromer personal property tax rate: $0.296/$100 of property valuation

Although the new rates are a reduction from the preceding year’s rates, the city expects to bring in more revenue–$4,979,680.9 compared to last year’s $4,708,559.92–due to increased property valuation in the city.

No discussion took place about the taxes, but one council member voted against the new tax rates, Renee Skidmore, who’s sat on the council for 16 years.

She didn’t think the rates were low enough and worried what the broader market trends, which have seen steep increases in property values throughout the region, meant for homeowners.

“Houses that used to sell for $95,000 now are $250,000,” Renee Skidmore said. “It’s got to bust some time.”

The resiliency fund, on the other hand, is the result of conversations among council members over the last few months, although the initial idea for a special rainy day-type fund began in the summer of last year.

First proposed by former council member Gary Meyer in July of 2022, the idea eventually led to the council moving $5 million from unrestricted reserves in the city’s general fund at the end of last year into Erlanger’s capital fund. This change restricted the use of the money for investment into essential public goods, like emergency vehicles and infrastructure repair.

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Council member Tyson Hermes brought the funds up again at the beginning of the year, expressing a desire to create a discrete budget line item and specific triggers for the use of the funds, such that they wouldn’t be spent erroneously or inadvertently.

Discussion went back and forth over the subsequent months, with council members disagreeing on where in the budget the money should go, on what it could be spent and the mechanisms that would trigger the city’s use of the money.

Hermes had presented an ordinance proposal in June that added triggering mechanisms for the money’s usage, but it proved unpopular among some of the council members, particularly Council Members Rebecca Reckers, Jennifer Jasper-Lucas and Tom Cahill, who were vocal in their opposition to additional strictures on the money.

As an alternative, Reckers proposed the idea of a resilience fund, which would delineate specifically how the money could be used and where it ought to be kept.

“The Resilience Fund has been established by the City of Erlanger for the purpose of providing funds for an urgent event that affects the safety of public (e.g., declaration of economic emergency, or other specific circumstances such as slow economic growth or a natural disaster…) for unexpected revenue declines that are projected to continue for more than 2 years,” the ordinance reads.

The new ordinance would return the money to the city’s general fund. Although this would grant the city more leeway in spending the money, it would still have to meet the triggering standards in the ordinance. The $5 million set aside would serve as a minimum balance for the fund and any drop below that minimum would need to be replenished within two years.

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Renee Skidmore and Don Skidmore were the only two council members to vote against establishing the resilience fund. They both declined to comment on the matter.

The council must now propose and vote on a budget amendment to move the $5 million back into the budget’s general fund. This will occur in October.

Read the full ordinance around the resilience fund here. You can also get a refresher on property taxes and how they work by reading our tax explainer.

The next meeting of the Erlanger City Council will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Erlanger City Building on Commonwealth Ave.

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