|Council sets sales tax priorities|
|Wednesday, September 19, 2012|
By PATRICK HALL
Lebanon City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night specifying they would spend revenue from a proposed sales tax increase on balancing their budget, improving drainage and flooding issues as well as catching up on paving.
A 0.5 percent sales tax increase will be put to a referendum on Nov. 6 for Lebanon citizens to decide if they want to raise the sales taxes within city limits to the state maximum of 9.75 percent. Members of the council wanted to specifically state where the additional revenue would be spent so citizens could be more informed.
The resolution states 50 percent of the additional revenue would be deposited into the city’s reserve fund, or their Rainy Day Fund. The city has been budgeting money from that fund for the past several years to cover a deficit.
The 2012-2013 budget allocates $2.75 million from the reserve fund.
Also the council will spend 25 percent of the additional revenue to a special sinking fund for addressing storm water, drainage and flooding issues. The remaining 25 percent will go into another special sinking fund for paving, street and sidewalk maintenance.
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston said he was glad the council has now defined how it will spend an estimated $3.5 million in additional revenues generated if the sales tax increase passes. Huddleston and Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler have been critical of a flyer distributed by Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead that lists many things the tax increase could be used for in the future.
“I too thought that was misleading,” Buhler said, after Lebanon resident Jim Dunn asked about the flyer prior to Tuesday night’s meeting.
Council hoped the city would put forth the effort to distribute the information in the newly passed resolution to citizens so they know just exactly how the money will be spent.
“I wish there was a way to get this out and see this is our plan,” Huddleston said.
Buhler said if the city receives the additional revenue, they should determine how to spend the money evenly in each ward, instead of fixing problems one ward at a time.
“There is a fair way to do it and address all wards,” Buhler said.
Ward 5 Councilor Haywood Barry said he would support the city spending money to print copies of the resolution for distribution and said the people should be looking at what they just laid out as opposed to the flyer previously distributed by the mayor.
City Attorney Andy Wright indicated if the increase passes, future councils do not have to go by the resolution as they cannot bind a future council by law. He included wording at the end of the resolution asking future council members to honor what this council had established with the sales tax increase.
“If a council comes in after us and changes it, that’s on them,” Huddleston said.