Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2009
Copyright 2009 - Polk County Publishing Company
City tax rate hearing attracts few citizens
Houston County Courier - August 2009
TRINITY – A pair of public hearings on a proposed 18 percent increase in the Trinity city tax rate drew few citizens and no strong objections.
During the first hearing held Thursday, Aug. 27, only three people turned out to ask questions about the increase, which is being sought to fund a $500,000 street improvement project.
On Monday, Aug. 31, the final hearing drew no members of the public. City council members waited about 15 minutes past the 6 p.m. start time to give area residents time to arrive but adjourned the hearing when no one came forward.
“I have to feel that with no one showing up, they are in favor of the tax increase to fund street improvements,” City Councilman Hayne Huffman said during Monday’s meeting.
“I do want to assure the public that we will do our very best to do as many streets as possible with the money,” he added.
Under the plan, the city would sell $500,000 in certificates of obligation – which is a way for governments to borrow money – and repay them over a 10-year period.
City Manager Phil Patchett said that for the first three years, the money from the tax increase will not be quite enough to cover the annual payments and that the city would supplement the property tax income with funds from the city sales tax.
He noted that by 2012, other city debt will be paid off and the council would be able to reduce the tax rate.
The topic of the state mandated public hearings held Thursday and Monday was the increase in the city’s property tax rate.
Under the plan, the rate would go from 60.85 cents per $100 in assessed value to 71.6 cents.
Patchett said the council would be asked to formally approve the new tax rate during their regular meeting on Sept. 10.
During Monday’s meeting, Mayor Lyle Stubbs noted that the $500,000 street project was necessary.
“We are in dire need of it and I think everyone realizes that. I think that’s why no one is here tonight,” Stubbs added.
Councilman Neal Smith noted that he was questioned by a local citizen about the city’s future plans for the streets.
“He read in the paper that we have been spending $50,000 a year on the streets and he wanted to know if we were going to continue with that once we got the $500,000,” Smith said.
The councilman assured the man the city intended to continue annual spending and suggest to the council on Monday night that a five- or 10-year plan be developed for future street work.
Patchett said he had discussed the matter with Smith previously and checked with the city’s auditor to determine if they could create a special capital expenditure fund into which money earmarked for future street work could be placed.
“He told me it was absolutely legal for us to do that. We could use it for roads, water tanks and other capital expenditures,” Patchett said.
The council agreed to discuss future street improvement plans in the near future but agreed that for the time being their focus was moving forward with the $500,000 project they hope to get underway this year.