Leachville Council votes to place tax on ballot

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Leachville City Council passed three ordinances in preparation for levying a 1 percent city sales and use tax, to hopefully avoid raising water and sewer rates at the regular council meeting Oct. 4.

"If you decide to have the sales and use tax on the ballot for the Dec. 14special election, then you need to take action tonight," city attorney Mike Bearden said. "You need to post notices in five public places and publish it in the Town Crier, to let the people know."

Bearden read three ordinances dealing with the sales and use tax, and the council placed them on the second and third readings before passing them unanimously.

The first two ordinances called for a special election for levying two new one-half of one percent (0.5%) sales and use taxes within the city of Leachville, with .5% for water and sewer and .5% for the general fund, for a total of one percent overall. The third ordinance calls for a special election on the question of issuing bonds for financing all, or a portion of the cost of water improvements.

"If the people don't pass this then you won't have water," Bearden said. "Something has to be done."

The council reviewed a letter received on Sept. 29, from Bearden, concerning the city's federal income tax situation.

"I have talked with Frank Heath from Austin, Texas, who is the man the city hired to assist in negotiating a settlement with the IRS," Bearden wrote. "Mr. Heath said it appeared that the 941 forms (employee withholding) were not paid for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. That makes a total of twelve (12) returns which have not been filed. He said that we should go ahead and start preparing those returns so we can send them in prior to making an offer in compromise, because the IRS will not discuss compromise if the city is delinquent. He also indicated that there were no W-2s or W-3s for 1998 and 1999."

"Ruth Ann (Keith) needs to continue to try to find the W-2s and W-3s," Bearden said. "She has already found delinquent notices in the safe."

Keith agreed that she had indeed found notices.

"Ruth Ann is doing a wonderful job," Bearden said. "She is on top of it and knows what she is doing. The auditors are here now. When I served on the Legislative Audit Committee, the committee would turn personal reimbursements over to the prosecuting attorney. I don't know why it wasn't done before, if they found something."

"This could end up being $250,000 or more, with penalties and interest."

In other business:

*The council set Saturday, Oct. 30, for the observance of Halloween instead of Sunday, Oct. 31.

*The Leachville Christmas parade and open house was set for Thursday, Dec. 9. The parade will begin at 6:30 and the open house will be held at the theatre, following the parade.

*Betty Jo Eldried, acting on behalf of the Leachville Housing Authority Commission, requested that Leon Swihart be appointed to serve on the board. The council unanimously approved the recommendation.

"Each year we divide our revenue between the county, the city and the school, in lieu of paying taxes," Eldried said. "The city's share this year is $1,162.35."

*The council discussed collection and issuing notices for City Privilege License. Formerly the city clerk filled out fee notification forms, gave them to the police, who made a premise visit to collect. City treasurer, Ruth Ann Keith, reported that some businesses owe for two years, one year, and some were current.

Mayor Ralph Wells reported that there had been 21 new businesses in the city in the past two years.

The council requested city attorney Bearden to check into area privilege license amounts, so Leachville could regulate amounts.

* "We agreed to pay $15 for each prisoner housed at the county jail, beginning November 2003," Mayor Wells said. "Other cities later agreed to pay the same amount, but were only billed a portion of what we paid. We plan to ask for a refund."

*Mayor Wells listed street department and general fund 2004 turn back money from theMunicipal League as being $47 per capata, $93,104, for street, and $15.50 per capata, $30,705, for general fund.

* Lot owners Tom Puckett, Robert Pierce, and Terry Stewart requested paving of their streets, agreeing to pay $4,500 of the cost, with the city paying the remainder. Puckett agreed to pay $2,000, Pierce $2,000, and Stewart $500. Councilman Bill Hetler moved for the city to do the job, if it could be done for $4,500. The council voted 3 to 3, with Mayor Wells breaking the tie to do the job. Hetler, Monte Grimes, and Estus Williams voted for and Karen Wallace, Sheila Spurlock, and Rick Hamilton voted against.

"I don't have anything against the men who are willing to pay to have their street paved, but we agreed last month to collect the money first before doing any more paving," Alderman Wallace said.

"These men are good for their word, and are agreeing to pay for the paving," Wells said. "It sounds like we don't trust them, demanding the money up front."

"We have paved streets before and never collected our money, that is why we agreed last month to get the money first," Wallace said. "It is just good business to do it. These men are businessmen and they will understand why we agreed to do this in the first place."

Wallace moved to get the money before doing the job. The motion passed 5-1 with Williams casting the vote against.

"It is pretty bad when you don't trust people to pay," Wells said.

"Mayor, we have got caught with others not paying, after they said they would," Spurlock said. "We can't be changing our policies all the time, and we agreed last month to collect the money first. This is not a personal thing, we are just trying to stick to the rules we have agreed on."

"I suggest you go talk to them then, as I'm not," Wells said.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at city hall.

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