Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gov. Meeting:Tax/Utility Hikes on Agenda

According to published reports a Sales Tax increase and a Water/Sewer rate hike are to be considered by City Officials at tomorrow night's meeting (6PM, City Hall). At last weeks Finance Committee Meeting, a $2/mo water rate and a $3/mo sewer rate hike were recommended-- along with a 2% sales tax--in response to the dismal financial projections in the just released yearly Financial Audit. City Water usage was said to be down-- and Sewer was reported as operating at $768,000/yr in the red (had to borrow that much from the electric fund last year to make up the deficit). All present(Mayor, Ford, Mixon, Kingrea, Stankoski) agreed the Utility hike was necessary (to begin Apr. 1st), but Councilman Ford expressed some opposition at first to the sales tax with, "We should save it for a hurricane." Later, Ford seemed to warm some to the idea-- but only if it were "earmarked" for specific projects. Mayor Kant--saying he's "squeezed" his Dept. Mangers to the limit-- and is concerned about cash flow especially later this Summer, suggested a 1.5% sales tax, to match Spanish Fort's, but Finance Chairman Lonnie Mixon remarked the .5% was really insignificant. Kant also mentioned the possibility of concurrently reducing property taxes, fees, etc. as another consideration/alternative. Attorney/Councilman Kingea agreed, "We should bite the bullet to maintain our quality of life and level of services;" and Federal Bankruptcy Consultant/Councilman Mixon opined, "We really need to get away from using lines of credit." Councilman Stankoski offered that if one had been adopted in 2006 (when the sales tax subject last came up), "We wouldn't have had to borrow $3 million for the new Recreation Center". "I'm with Rick (Kingea), we can't continue to provide services at a loss. Its all a false economy," he added. In the past, Stankoski has spoken of City financial practices as a "Shell Game" and Kingrea warned of ongoing "secret taxation" during last Fall's election campaign. A citizen in the audience spoke up-- saying she really didn't need all the ball fields, tennis courts, and such anyway-- and suggested a one time "head tax" on all city residents, instead of a sales tax-- "so the tourists wont have to pay our bills for us." Councilman Kingea retorted, "That's exactly what I want them to do!" [NOTE: Veteran Council President Quinn was not present for this meeting-- but has consistently opposed a sales tax, citing possible harm to small businesses--according to past published comments.] [NOTE:Ultra-Veteran Councilman Ford was supporting a sales tax back in March 2006--earmarked for recreation-- as did 2- term Councilman Stankoski--according to reports published at the time.]


Pirate Proud said...

Save a new tax for the aftermath of a hurricane when people are hurting most? might want to think about that one some more. :)

Anonymous said...

I see where more people are coming to this meeting begging for money for their race. Its always some club or band or trail maids going to washington on our dime. this sort of thing needs to stop. just start saying no.

Anonymous said...

its not surprising so many citizens are confused and skeptical. over $90,000 was spent by one candidate during last summer's political campaign to convince us we were in great financial shape.