When Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers first proposed a one percent hike in the city’s sales tax, he said the tax would sunset after 10 years.
When the sales tax proposal was put before members of the Paris City Council earlier this month, the sunset provision had been removed. Rogers said there were several good reasons for this.
"To do the things we need to do, it’ll take longer than 10 years to pay for it," Rogers said last week. "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."
Two ordinances — one levying the sales tax and the other setting the date for a special election on the tax increase — were put before Aldermen at the Paris City Council meeting on Monday, May 6.
Under the proposal levying the tax, proceeds from the one percent increase will be used to repair city water lines, make improvements at the city’s water production plant, make repairs to smaller water lines in the city or other improvements.
Also, if voters increase the tax, the city will eliminate the $12 monthly ($144 annually) fee for trash collection. Rogers has estimated the tax would bring in about $500,000 a year. About $200,000 of that would be used to pay the cost of trash collection with the rest backing a bond issue for improvements.
Rogers said the sunset idea was proposed to keep city government accountable. "It was a way to make sure the money was being spent the right way," he said.
Although the sunset provision has been removed, there is a provision in the proposal calling for the removal of the sales tax if the trash collection fee is reimposed.
"If we establish the trash collection fee again, the tax goes away," Rogers said. "That keeps the city accountable and protects the citizens."
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.
On May 6, both proposed ordinances were read for the first time. Under normal procedures, ordinances are read three times at separate meetings before a final vote is taken. However, if an emergency clause is attached, the ordinance can be read three times at one meeting and then voted on.
Rogers said members of the City Council wanted additional time to educate the public about the sales tax proposal.
Rogers said the proposed ordinances will come up again at the June City Council meeting. If approved, a special election on the sales tax increase could take place no earlier than Aug. 13, Rogers said.