Lake City sales tax discussed

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lake City officials will be giving the citizens of Lake City the opportunity to vote for a one cent sales tax in the upcoming November election. Of the proposed sales tax, one half cent will go to street repair and one half cent to water and sewer maintenance.

Lake City Mayor Billy Anderson looks over needed street repairs.

"The decision will be made by the voters," Lake City Mayor Billy Anderson said. "We do want them to make an informed decision on the tax issue. We have had two public meetings and will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 28, before the regular council meeting to give anyone the opportunity to ask questions."

The regular city council meeting has been moved from June 21 to June 28.

Anderson said with the economy as it is, the city is at the point where it will either have to go with a sales tax or raise water and sewer rates.

"We feel the sales tax is the more fair way," Anderson said. "We have a lot of elderly people on fixed income and raising the city's utilities could hurt them more than a one cent sales tax. We have very reasonable water rates."

The city has a present population of 1,956. City officials expect it to go up in the census to a possible 2,200 or more.

"Our building permits have doubled in 2009 and this year," Mayor Anderson said. "We have a lot of construction underway. We have a new junior and senior high school going up. We have a new doctor's office coming, and several new businesses."

Mayor Anderson has served as mayor for the last four years. He announced recently he will not seek re-election.

"I have enjoyed serving as Lake City's mayor," Anderson said. "I have been asked why I want to see a city sales tax put into place when I will not be here. I know it would be good for the city."

Anderson went on to point out the money generated from the sales tax can only be used for street improvements and water/sewer improvements. It cannot be used for equipment, salaries, or extra manpower.

"Water and sewer is always a major concern of all towns," Anderson said. "Street paving is expensive. We are surviving but we don't have a lot of extra money for repairs or paving. We spend all of the dollars we take in back on the water and sewer. The cost of paving is not going to get any cheaper to keep the streets maintained. You can estimate about a $1,000 per foot for paving."

Mayor Anderson also pointed out the city had a one half cent sales tax that went off in 2008 when the loan was paid off. In all reality people would only be paying a half cent more than they did for years. Also, Lake City's sales tax is at seven cents and Jonesboro has an eight cent tax.

"We spend the eight cent tax in Jonesboro and do not give it a thought," Mayor Anderson said.

Anderson said the previous one half cent sales tax generated about $55,000 in 2008.

"We predict it to be about the same today," he said. "It will be up to the voters to decide on the sales tax. I know people do not like additional taxes but we do feel the sales tax is the most fair way to everyone. Funds generated from this tax can only be used for what it is set aside for. We will need extra revenue to maintain our streets. Keeping our water and sewer up and running is always a priority for the city."

Mayor Anderson once again expressed his appreciation to all of the citizens of Lake City for a great four years in office.

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