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Grandview eyes utility tax hike to balance 2008 budget

GRANDVIEW - A typical resident in Grandview may see taxes on their city utility bill (water, sewer and solid waste) go up by about 50 percent next year so the city can balance its books in 2008.

That's the bad news, the good news is that amounts to just under $3.50 more per month, from $7 to $10.44 in utility taxes.

The discussion was part of a budget study session the Grandview City Council held last night.

Council members last night eyed a preliminary 2008 budget that City Administrator Scott Staples said will require about $4.5 million in expenses and $4.2 million in revenue, leaving a $300,000 shortfall.

John Myers is Grandview's city treasurer, and he said an increase in utility taxes would bridge the deficit gap because it would apply to not just residential users, but commercial and industrial as well.

Mayor Norm Childress told council he does not want to cut services, rather to raise new revenue to make up the deficit.

Since car tab revenues went away in 1999 in the wake of I-695, Childress said residents have not had to pay hundreds of dollars annually for tab fees. Saying it's "time to pay the piper," Childress felt the utility tax increase is only a few dollars more per month and is justified considered the level of service citizens receive.

Staples presented a chart that showed the city lost $4 million in revenues in the eight years since I-695 became state law.

Last night's budget discussion also included updates on parks, the library and the fire department.

Among proposed budget changes in those departments for next year is a wait-and-see approach to a $15,000 upgrade of the library's interior. That's because the city and YVCC are looking to build a new, joint facility. The city expects to find out early next year whether a state grant will be approved for library construction.

Parks and the fire department did not show too much difference in their respective budgets, though raises are in the offing for fire department volunteers and staff to reflect standard pay in other similar-sized departments.

Council will have a second budget session tonight and will take action on the 2008 budget during the Dec. 3 council meeting.

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