The Newburg City Council could vote as early as next month on whether or not Phelps County should take over handling property and real estate tax collections for the City of Newburg.

At the March 19 council meeting, which was rescheduled from March 12, council member Alyson Garvey said after talking with County Collector Davis Haas, she estimates that Newburg can save about $900 by having the county handle tax collections instead of paying a city tax collector for the job.

“He (Haas) guarantees us that it will only cost the city about $300 to take on our taxes as opposed to last year, we paid out $1,200 (to a city tax collector),” Garvey said. “It’d save the city about $900 a year.”

That $300 estimate translates to about 2 percent of the total amount of property and real estate taxes that the county would collect for Newburg. Haas said 1 percent of that amount would go to the county and the other 1 percent would go to the collector’s office.

Currently, Doreen Moore, who also is a council member, serves as the volunteer tax collector for Newburg.

Before she was appointed to the council, she was paid about $1,200 last year to collect taxes for the city.

Moore said at the March 19 meeting that about $14,936 in 2012 taxes had been collected through Jan. 31, 2013.

Since 2004, the county has collected city property taxes for both Rolla and St. James.

Garvey said Haas told her that the collection rates for both cities “went way up” after they began letting the county collect their property and real estate taxes for them.

If the county were to begin collecting taxes for Newburg, “I also think we’d get a better rate of people paying their taxes,” Garvey said.

“It sounds good to me,” said council member Bill Stines.

It was noted that if the county were to take over collecting taxes, it would not collect past due taxes.

Garvey said the city could still hire a tax collector to go after the back taxes before 2013.

City Clerk Phyllis Harris asked about the legality of changing when Newburg taxes are due, noting that currently, the due date for city property owners is Feb. 1 of each year. If the county were to take over, taxes for Newburg property owners would be due Dec. 31, the same as the county’s deadline. Harris asked if a vote of the residents would be needed to change the date.

Garvey said she could find an answer and the council could make a final decision at its April meeting.

In other business

Also at the March 19 meeting, the council approved an ordinance to participate in a mutual aid agreement through the Missouri Public Utilities Alliance (MPUA).

Pat Adams, the new president of the Newburg Day Committee, informed the board that planning has started for the 38th annual event scheduled for Saturday, June 8, this year. Mayor James Poucher agreed to be the grand marshal for the parade.

Newburg Police Chief Chris Finch told the board that he received a grant for two radios to be used in the Missouri Statewide Wireless Interoperable Network (MOSWIN). Finch said the radios have not been received yet and still need to be programmed.

Moore said she was asked by Elizabeth te Groen, curator at the Newburg Children’s Museum, about placing a fire escape on the back of the museum building. Council members agreed to talk to te Groen to get more specifics about her request.

Garvey made a plea to clean up the Little Piney River area, and place trash cans and parking signs in the park. “There’s a lot of blight,” she said, “but it’s one of our most charming areas. We need to move on making it more of an asset and protect one of our only assets.”

The council approved spending about $1,200 to $1,500 to have Donald Farm and Lawn in Rolla repair a city mower.

The council approved spending $1,750 to fix a pump at a lift station and to purchase three truckloads of asphalt to help repair streets. A load was estimated to cost about $150, according to Bob Forrester, maintenance supervisor. “We have some deteriorating streets in town so anything will help,” he said. Garvey said she feels that some streets are impassible.

The council held a closed session to discuss personnel.