Tuesday, February 5, 2008
GRANDVIEW - Whether to raise taxes to increase revenues or cut city services is the question on each Grandview City Council member's mind, and they are seeking help from the public for answers.
To get these answers the council is going to host three meetings at the Carl L. Stevens Senior Center in Grandview to solicit responses from the public.
A meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and two will be held on Thursday, Feb. 28. On that day a morning meeting will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and in the evening from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The big question will be how Grandview residents want their tax dollars spent. Whether on streets, the library, the swimming pool, the fire department, the police department, gang prevention, parks or recreation.
One of the challenges Grandview is facing is how to maintain services at their current revenue level, especially in the current expense and street funds. Under existing state law cities are limited in their options to raise additional revenue for these funds.
One way to raise money is to raise taxes. Residents can vote on whether to raise private utility taxes. A 1 percent increase would add approximately $160,000 to the city's coffers.
The city council can raise vehicle license fees up to $20 each year. This would add $180,000 to the city's street fund. Residents can vote to raise vehicle license fees up to $100. If voters took this drastic measure the city could collect $900,000 for its street fund.
Voters can increase the city's current one-quarter percent real estate excise tax another one-quarter percent. This would provide an extra $50,000 to the city's capital improvement fund.
City Councilman Jesse Palacios last night said he thinks it should be made clear to Grandview residents that these current options won't increase the city's coffers enough to provide improvements to the city. These increases will just be enough to keep the city operational on a daily basis, he noted.
Grandview City Administrator Scott Staples said if city residents don't want their taxes raised, they will need to tell the city what services they feel they can live without, or what they want the city to do differently.
Several programs in the current expense fund actually raise revenues by themselves but also cost money to provide. For instance, the largest revenues come from municipal court services, which bring in approximately $123,000 a year. However, this service costs the city $160,700 a year to provide.
On a whole, the services provided from the current expense fund bring the city $469,500 each year but cost the city $4,464,080.
The residents of Grandview will have some tough decisions to make later this month. Staples told the council the outreach program is a financial planning tool and added the city is being proactive in addressing these challenges.
The council directed Staples to have a dollar amount figure to give to residents so they have something to shoot for when deciding whether to cut services or raise taxes.