Monroe set to ask voters for sales tax increase to fill potholes
MONROE - The city is preparing to take a sales tax increase to voters to make up for the lack of roadway dollars in its coffers.
The city needs a consistent revenue of $500,000 for roadway projects. Based on the general fund five-year forecast reported in mid-February, there wasn’t enough funding available for street maintenance. Finance director Dianne Nelson had previously stressed the urgency of fixing this issue based on the findings in the five-year forecast.
Currently, street funding is coming from just two places: Fees from garbage hauler Republic Services and the state gas tax. These sources average about $350,000 a year and are enough money for everything except yearly pothole fixing and other street preservation.
That funding used to come from royalties from Lakeside Industries and Cadman, Inc. for mining operations on city land near the Galaxy movie theater.
A 0.2 percent sales tax increase would generate an estimated $524,000, more than adequate funding for city roads.
Right now, there are too many potholes to maintain, Nelson said.
The City Council generally approved of the sales tax increase as the fairest route to take, including Councilmen Ed Davis, Kevin Hanford and Kurt Goering.
Some other options were a property tax increase, eating the city’s rainy day fund or asking voters for a special property tax levy.
“We don’t want a Band Aid fix,” Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback said. “The (city’s transportation) committee doesn’t want to put an increase on property taxes, nor licensing fees, but rather, the sales tax increase was the favored option due to the upcoming opening of Walmart, and summer traffic for shoppers.”
“We’ve got a lot of people using our roads now,” he said. “The idea of putting that under a sales tax seemed to be much more overall fair to everybody.”
Hanford agreed, too.
“I’m never for raising taxes as a legislative body. I’d much rather have the people vote and raise their own tax,” Hanford said. “I’m really in support of this option.”
The city will prepare a resolution to the voters for probably either the August or November ballot, but city leaders also want street funding figured out in the meantime before next year’s budget preparations start this summer.
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