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Grandview Councilmen explore utility tax increase

GRANDVIEW - Grandview City Council members continued their discussion about a possible utility tax increase at a regularly scheduled meeting held last night (Monday).

This time, talk shifted as to whether or not the increase should be that of 1 percent, or an increase of 5 percent over the course of five years.

"Every 1 percent utility tax increase pushes back the red another year," said City Administrator Scott Staples.

At a previous meeting, treasurer John Myers showed city council members that by 2009, the city will start losing its ending fund balance, expending more to maintain the current level of services.

For the average consumer, a 1 percent tax increase on utilities would reflect a 64ยข increase per month.

During initial discussions, there was talk of going as high as 3 percent. At last night's meeting, council members discussed going to 5 percent.

"At some point, you have to pay the piper," said Mayor Norm Childress. "We've been trying to maintain the same level of services...you don't go into Safeway and bargain with them."

Council member Pam Horner said she liked the idea of phasing in an increase over five years. "I'd like to see us ease into it and see what we can do to reverse this trend," she said.

Childress said that one benefit to having an increase in the ending fund balance has to do with having monies for matching grant funds. He said it gives entities a leg up to have those funds.

Council member Joan Souders expressed concern for the elderly and disabled living in Grandview on fixed incomes. She asked if there was a relief package that could be put together to spare those members of the community the increase. It was agreed that this would be looked into.

Water conservation in terms of offsetting the tax increase was brought up by council member Helen Darr. She said that one option could be to educate the citizens to conserve water.

Myers said that, historically, industry is 50 percent of Grandview's revenue in terms of water and sewer. Staples asked if it would be possible to meet with industry leaders and let them know this is being discussed. Council member Javier Rodriguez echoed that this is important, because companies enter into the year with a set budget, and a change could impact said budget.

Staples will meet with industry leaders, a public hearing date will be established and the city will hear comments on the proposed 5 percent phased in approach to a possible utility tax increase.

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