The Caldwell Fiscal Court on Tuesday set its 2020 tax rate to 9.7 cents per $100 value of real property, a modest decrease from last year’s rate of 9.8 cents per $100 value.

That rate was the compensating rate — the tax rate that brings in a similar amount of revenue to the previous year. The state allows taxing districts to take that rate up to a 4% increase from the previous year’s tax rate.

“We’ve never taken an increase that I know of, at least since I’ve been here,” Judge-Executive Larry Curling said. “(Property Valuation Administrator) Ronald (Wood) said since he’s been here, he’s never known the county to take an increase.

“We’re doing good financially — we really are. So, there’s really no need to raise the taxes.”

Despite the tax rate decreasing for at least the third straight year, Curling said he expected more revenue.

“People are building and properties are being appraised at a higher price,” he said. “We’re not losing any money; as a matter of fact, we’re increasing.”

The county property tax rate was 10.1 cents per $100 value in 2018 and 10.2 cents per $100 value in 2017.

The county tax rate for tangible property and vehicles will remain the same this year as it was last year, each at 11.5 cents per $100 value.

In the meeting, Curling praised the work that Wood has done in adding properties and explaining the tax rates to county citizens.

District 2 Magistrate Jeff Boone said that the fiscal court should consider increasing the tax rate because other tax revenues — including state and federal funding — would decrease sharply because of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I hate to be the one to raise the taxes, because we’re taxing such a minority of the population,” he said. “The landowners — the ones with ambition — are the ones carrying the burden for everybody else.”

“I echo Jeff’s comments to some degree,” said District 4 Magistrate Jeff Simms. “My opinion of that has changed in the face of COVID. I just don’t think, financially, now’s the time to increase rates due to the impact on these businesses, the small businesses and citizens, due to COVID-19.”

Curling said that he agreed with Boone as to the small portion of the population paying the taxes.

The vote to set the tax rate at 9.7 cents per $100 value passed by a 4-1 vote, with Boone voting against.