Council also discusses having county collect taxes

An audit of the City of Newburg during last fiscal year received a “clean opinion,” according to Molly Malone, of Verkamp & Malone CPA’s, of Rolla.

Malone presented the findings of her audit to the Newburg City Council Tuesday evening.

“You had another good year and you actually ended up in the black,” she said. “Overall, you got a very good audit, clean opinion, no major issues found ... You had a positive year.”

The audit covered the fiscal year from July 1, 2011, to June, 30, 2012. According to the audit’s findings, the city had total assets of $1.9 million and total liabilities of $481,000, a net equity of about $1,419,000.

Malone noted that Newburg had a lot of capital expenditures last fiscal year, but no new debt during that time. She said that while the city does not have a big tax base, she commended city officials for making do with what they have.

That led to a discussion later in Tuesday’s meeting about increasing property taxes, an issue that council member Randy Brinkley raised at the December council meeting. At that time, he said the city is struggling to find revenue to pay for services and road maintenance.

Newburg’s total tax levy is $0.8943 for every $100 assessed property value. That includes $0.7041 for the general revenue fund and $0.1902 for the library fund.

Council member Doreen Moore, who opposes raising taxes, said because the tax levy could only be raised by a maximum of about 10 cents, “That 10 cents isn’t going to get you new roads ... I personally am not for it. I pay enough taxes. If people don’t like what their taxes are, they need to have their property reassessed.”

Council member Alyson Garvey noted that if the process of collecting city property taxes is handed over to Phelps County, Newburg would have to pay the county 2 percent on the total amount that the county collects for the city. Currently, Moore serves as the volunteer tax collector for Newburg.

County Collector Davis Haas said 1 percent of that amount would go to the county and the other 1 percent would go to the collector’s office.

According to Haas, the county has collected city property taxes for both Rolla and St. James since 2004.

Garvey said by having the county handle the collection process, she feels that the county would have a better chance of getting a higher collection rate and a lower rate of delinquent Newburg resident taxpayers.

Garvey suggested a cost analysis to compare the expenses of Moore handling collections versus the county or someone else handling collections.

In other business:

• The council approved Ron Ragland as a reserve police officer. He would not be paid and work about one to two days per month, according to Newburg Police Chief Chris Finch. Ragland also works at the county prosecutor’s office and is a reserve officer in Cuba.

• The council also approved purchasing three new sets of police officer uniforms — one per month for the next three months.

• Also at the meeting, it was decided that Brinkley would form a committee to come up with options for addressing problems, such as water damage, at the old Newburg High School building. The committee will then bring its recommendations to the council for a final decision.