“The only thing we can do is go with the budget with no tax increases,” Harris told to council members during a work session at the city’s Civic Center on Monday night, Sept. 17. “Whatever we do here, we cannot have a tax increase because of time constraints. Since we are up against those constraints, we will have to keep that fee in place.”
The city council had proposed a property tax increase to replace an administration fee that was to be discontinued at the end of this year. The fee is a $6.50 monthly administration charge paid by everyone with a water meter and on city sewerage service.
Harris’ proposal is a retreat from a campaign pledge to eliminate the “unpopular fee,” as he called it when he ran for the mayor’s post. Harris was elected in November 2011 and became mayor January 2012.
Under Harris’ new plan, residents on the city’s septic system will receive a monthly bill for the $6.50. Details are being finalized and may allow for a lump-sum payment for the year.
The city would receive the $6.50 administration fee from 1,500 to 1,600 existing sewerage customers in the city, providing as much as $124,800 in revenue.
Nearly all of the council members were on board with the idea within a matter of minutes, except for Cindy Bradshaw.
She viewed it as “kicking the can down the road for another year” by continuing the practice of taping the city reserve funds.
The proposal will be read during a special called council meeting Thursday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m.
A public hearing to address the city’s proposed budget will be Oct. 3. with a final vote to occur during the regular city council meeting on Oct. 8. The city must have its new budget ready by the end of September, since the city’s budget year begins Oct. 1.