La Vergne Mayor Senna Mosley (center in orange) with the town's Board of Alderman after they were sworn in November 2010. (Photo from thisislavergne.com)
Some angry residents of La Vergne started a campaign this week to unincorporate after the city announced its property tax rate will double.
Stan Glasgow, owner of La Vergne Mini Storage is leading the campaign with petitions circulating to dissolve the city's charter.
Glasgow told another news source that the recent tax increase prompted him to action.
The City of La Vergne maintained a property tax rate of 50 cents per $100 of assessed value for 18 years until the 2011-2012 budget was adopted. The new budget, which took effect Friday, doubled the rate to $1. La Vergne now has the second highest city tax rate of the four incorporated cities in Rutherford County behind Murfreesboro.
The property tax rate is not the only reason residents are upset. Sewer and water rates rose substantially in June with a 60 percent increase for sewer and 40 percent for water.
La Vergne City Mayor Senna Mosley believes it would cost residents much more to unincorporate the city than people realize.
"If you think 50 cents is bad now, wait till it's unincorporated," Mosley said.
If La Vergne dissolves, all city employees would be dismissed and the city's assets would be sold to pay down its $30 million debt. The remaining debt would be the responsibility of individual property owners.
"The financial burden this will cause our citizens is far greater than the petitioners are saying. Property owners would be charged a special assessment to pay current city debts. All city employees would be terminated. Our police protection would be at the hands of the sheriff's office. If the city charter is dissolved, our ISO rating will also go up which means our home owners insurance rates will increase," Mosley said.
La Vergne would become part of unincorporated Rutherford County unless annexed by another city.
County Commissioner Carol Cook, a resident of La Vergne, expressed concern over the situation.
"I don't think this has been thought through. If they dissolve, that opens it up to anybody," Cook said.
Law enforcement in La Vergne would fall on the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Robert F. Arnold prefers not to speculate on La Vergne's potential dissolve, but will handle the situation if it arises.
"If it does happen, law enforcement would fall on this office and we'd figure it out at that time. It would definitely be a big undertaking," Arnold said.
If the petitioners are successful in getting the 33 1/3 percent of registered voters signatures, the Rutherford County Election Commission will have to verify that the signatures are valid, and a special election would be held for the residents of La Vergne at the expense of the petitioners. MP
La Vergne has dissolved before
After the Civil War, the town on the Rutherford-Davidson county border unincorporated because most of the town had burned during the conflict as it switched sides between the Confederacy and Union.
La Vergne was first incorporated Feb. 28, 1860 but the incorporation was rescinded in 1881. Since the Civil War – no city officials had been elected and there weren't enough adults to let the town organize a board of mayor and alderman and town constitution.
From 1881 to 1958, La Vergne was a small farming community with a population of less than 1,000 people. The city was re-incorporated in 1972 and Vester Waldron was chosen as the first mayor.
But, the history of the city goes back to the 1700s when the ancestors of some of La Vergne's current residents settled in the area to begin their new life.
The man the city was named after, Francois Leonard Gregorie de Roulhac de lavergne, eventually moved to Tennessee from France. He lived on the land, often turning his cattle onto what he reportedly termed as "la vergne" or "the green."
Since its founding more than 200 years ago, La Vergne has become one of the fastest growing cities in Tennessee and the country.
In 1990, the U.S. Census showed that the city had 7,499 people living within the limits. By the 2000 Census, 18,687 people were counted in the city. The 2008 special census, showed 26,427 people in town.
The growth can be credited, in part, to Lake Forest Estates, the largest subdivision of homes in the state of Tennessee, which claims more than 3,100 homes.
For more about La Vergne, visit thisislavergne.com.