Proposed sales tax measure pulled from agenda
Post staff reports
Lebanon City Council approved a number of items on its agenda at Tuesday’s regular meeting, but the main item was pulled from consideration.
An ordinance to increase the sales tax in Lebanon to 2.75 percent, up from the current 2.25 percent, and seek a referendum for citizens to vote on it was pulled from the agenda after City Attorney Andy Wright determined that in calling for a sales tax referendum, the city must publish notice of the first reading of the measure in the newspaper at least seven calendar days prior, which was done.
However, Wright noted that state election officials were concerned about the wording of the ballot for the referendum which included reference to the property tax. They thought it might be confusing to voters. The measure noted that if the sales tax hike was approved then the recent increase in the city’s property tax would be decreased.
In addition, Wright noted that the city charter gives “sole authority” to council in setting a property tax rate and by including it on the ballot question “would be transferring that authority to the voters, albeit indirectly, which would violate our charter provisions. Based on these two positions, they will not permit our county election commissioner, Phillip Warren, to place the ballot question on a referendum ballot,” as it was written.
Any change in wording will require the notice to be republished at least seven days prior to first reading.
Wright said he advised that the ordinance be pulled from the agenda for last night’s meeting, and he will work to find language for the ballot that would be acceptable to state election officials. He added he hoped to have the measure ready for council to consider by the second meeting in January, set for Jan. 21.
Council, at Tuesday’s meeting, approved the following items: