The Paris City Council voted unanimously on Monday, June 3 to call a special election on Tuesday, Aug. 13 on a proposed one percent increase in the city’s sales tax.
If approved by voters, proceeds from the increase, estimated at $500,000 annually, will be used to finance improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems. Also, if the tax is approved, the city’s $144 annual fee for trash collection at each household will be abolished and proceeds from the sales tax increase will be used to pay for the service, according to the ordinance Aldermen approved.
If approved by voters, the one percent increase would bring the city sales tax to 1.5 percent. The city presently levies a half-percent sales tax which goes to Mercy Hospital in Paris. If approved, the total sales tax in the city would rise to nine percent, when counting sales taxes levied by the county and the state.
An ordinance levying the tax and one calling the election were introduced to the City Council in May.
Rogers said last week that if voters approved the tax increase, the trash collection fee will be removed no later than the December meeting of the City Council.
"I want to assure residents that there will be no charge for trash collection and the level of service will remain the same if the tax passes," Rogers said.
The ordinance levying the tax does not include a sunset clause. Rogers originally proposed a 10-year lifespan for the tax increase which would end if not renewed by voters.
"To do the things we need to do, it’ll take longer than 10 years to pay for it," Rogers said. "Bond payments over a 20-year or 30-year period of time will be much lower annually than making payments over a 10-year period. Longer term financing will allow us to do more improvements."
According to the ordinance calling the special election, proceeds from the tax increase can only be used for three items:
• To payback any bonds the city may issue for water and sewer improvements;
• To reimburse the city for trash collection, to operate and maintain the city’s solid waste collection and disposal and to acquire or construct facilities improvements or equipment for the city’s solid waste department; and
• To maintain and operate the city’s water and sewer systems and to do improvements to the systems.
About $200,000 of the $500,000 the tax is estimated to generate would be used to pay the cost of trash collection with the rest going to water and sewer improvements, Rogers said.