Because the Newburg City Council is often struggling to find revenue to pay for services and what was described by one resident as failing roads in the town, a council member has suggested raising property taxes.
During Wednesday night’s council meeting, Randy Brinkley, council member, said, “I think to get some revenue in this town, we need to have our taxes increased.”
In late August, the council approved no change in the 2012 property tax levy from the prior year.
Newburg’s total tax levy is $0.8943 for every $100 of assessed property value. That includes $0.7041 for the general revenue fund and $0.1902 for the library fund.
In order to raise property taxes, it would require a vote of the Newburg residents.
Brinkley made a motion to put a tax increase on the ballot for an upcoming election, but his motion did not include an amount or which election.
Brinkley and council member Alyson Garvey voted in favor of the motion but council member Doreen Moore voted against putting it on the ballot. Newburg’s fourth councilman, Bill Stines, was absent.
Even though the vote was 2-1 in favor, three votes are needed for passage. The council members present also felt that Stines should be involved in the discussion.
“I’m not for it. I pay enough taxes,” Moore said. “I don’t want taxes to go up.”
Moore said she believes attracting more businesses in town would help, noting that residents should not bear the burden of taxes.
However, Newburg resident Dallas McNew said, “A business isn’t going to want to come here because the first thing they’re going to notice is when they drive around town is the roads are falling apart. They don’t have potholes in them. They are failing. We’re talking about massive repair work that needs to be done.”
“I don’t want taxes to go up. Nobody does,” Brinkley said, “(but) the city doesn’t have money. We’re always under stress here for money.”
“(Those) taxes are not going to clear up everything,” Moore said.
McNew suggested the idea of creating a road or street tax with funds dedicated only to the repair and maintenance of city streets in Newburg.
McNew is the only candidate to have filed for city council as of late Thursday morning. McNew filed for the Ward 1 seat, which is currently held by Moore.
In 2009 and 2010, Newburg’s total tax levy was $0.8468 per $100 of assessed property value, and in 2008, the city’s tax levy totaled $0.8254. In 2007, the tax levy in Newburg was $0.8180.
Page 2 of 2 - The 2012 total tax levies for the other four cities in Phelps County are as follows: Rolla, $0.7404; St. James, $0.4516; Doolittle, $0.2683; and Edgar Springs, $0.4696.
Also during the meeting, Brinkley stated that he believes background checks should be run on new residents in Newburg, which City Clerk Phyllis Harris said was illegal.
Brinkley made the statement, noting that several residents move to town, don’t pay their electric bill and then leave and the city is left holding the bill.
It was suggested that the council consider raising the deposit residents pay for electric service. Currently, renters pay a $225 deposit for electric service and owners pay a $30 deposit for electric service. Both pay $50 deposits for water service in town, but the council made no mention of changing that deposit.
“You run a fine line between having a deposit so high that you have issues with people moving in,” said Mayor James Poucher.
Garvey suggested a discussion regarding increasing deposits for electric service be put on the agenda for the council’s January meeting.
The council also was informed that filing for the council seats currently held by Brinkley and Moore are up for election in April. Filing opened Dec. 11 and will close Jan. 15 at 5 p.m.
Neither incumbent had filed as of Thursday morning. Moore was appointed in September by Poucher and approved by the council to fill the unexpired term of Mark Fox.
Newburg council members serve two-year terms. To run for the Newburg City Council, candidates must be at least 21 years old, a registered voter, a U.S. citizen and a resident of both Newburg and the ward in which they are running in for at least one year.