Early voting on a proposed 1 percent increase in the sales tax charged in Paris will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Early votes can be cast from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through Monday, Aug. 12 at the Logan County Clerk’s office in the Logan County Courthouse in Paris.
Election day is Tuesday, Aug. 13. Votes can be cast from 7:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the First National Bank Community Center in Paris. Only registered voters living in Paris can cast ballots.
Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers said last week that he’s talked to a number of residents about the tax increase proposal and feels good about what they’re saying
"The people I’ve talked to, and I’ve talked to quite a few people, are positive about it," Rogers said.
The mayor has scheduled a public meeting about the proposed sales tax increase for 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 5, following the regular monthly meeting of the Paris City Council, at the Municipal Building. Rogers invited residents to attend and discuss the sales tax proposal or any other issue.
If approved by voters, 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 annual) fee for trash collection. Rogers has estimated the tax will 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 also stressed that while residents will not be charged for trash collection, the trash will still be collected and the level of service will not change.
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.
Rogers said the infrastructure improvements the tax proceeds will pay for are needed.
"What I’ve presented is an actual plan to put money into our infrastructure," he said. "Right now, we don’t have the money to improve our infrastructure. The money we have is being used to fix problems, maintain what we’ve got and handle expenses. We have to do some major water and sewer improvements. The last major improvements to the system were done in the mid-1990s.
"I can think, off the top of my head, at least 10 to 15 years worth of needed improvements," Rogers said. "There are a lot of projects that need to be done."
Rogers said if voters approve the sales tax increase, projects will be prioritized.
"We’ll start with the worst problems and fix them first," he said.
Rogers has also said that increasing the sales tax is the fastest, easiest and fairest way to fund improvements with the alternative being possible increases in water and sewer rates.
"The sales tax increase will, by far, cost our residents the least," he said. "Doing the improvements through rate increases would require major rate increases. It’s the best way to fix the problems — and we have problems that need to be fixed — and have the least negative impact for our people."
So far, no organized opposition to the proposed sales tax increase has surfaced.