Scott City asks voters to renew capital improvements tax
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Scott City voters will decide Aug. 3 whether to continue a sales tax to pay for upgrades to city parks, offices and infrastructure.
"It's used for building upkeep and for new projects," Mayor Tim Porch said.
The quarter-cent sales tax will expire in August 2011 if the proposed 10-year extension is not approved.
A new amphitheater in the city park would be partially funded by the sales tax, something local business owner Paul Schock of Schock's Pub said will bring more business traffic to the town.
It's not been determined yet exactly how much of the tax revenue will go toward the amphitheater, estimated to cost between $60,000 and $100,000, Porch said.
The amphitheater will seat 3,000 people and host outdoor concerts and plays, Schock said. It will have a 70-by-65-foot stage.
"It will give Scott City a good income boost for the summer," Schock said. "Not only with ticket sales, but also it will bring people who will buy gas, want to go out to eat somewhere and want to shop in our stores while they're here."
Schock said the sales tax funds projects that benefit the community but that otherwise couldn't be paid for.
Other improvements that would be funded by the renewal of the sales tax include new storm sirens for severe weather warnings, upgrades to the city's water main system to resolve low pressure problems in some areas, and repairs to facilities and equipment for the city's public works, fire and police departments, Porch said.
"In the past a lot of our building maintenance was done by volunteer labor," Porch said. "So now we're having to go in and fix some of the problems from that."
The sales tax generates between $70,000 and $80,000 per year, Porch said. In recent years, the funds were used to buy a new city hall building on Chester Avenue and make repairs at the police station. Improvements also were made to the city jail, which is now able to house some Scott County prisoners. Because the city is paid by the county for housing those inmates, that is a good revenue stream for the city, Porch said. The city also used sales tax revenue to buy land near the small park where a railroad caboose is on display off Main Street. Previously the city leased that property.
If the extension is approved Aug. 3, the city's sales tax rate will remain unchanged at 6.975 percent.
Local business owner Ronald Mason said he believes the city's tax rate is fair.
"We have a pretty levelheaded mayor and councilmen right now that seem to be spending it wisely," said Mason, who owns the floral shop Paradise Express.
If approved, this will be the third renewal of Scott City's sales tax, which was first passed in 1998 to pay for a firetruck.
When the tax was renewed in 2004, its purpose was broadened to capital improvements and the city discontinued a motor vehicle license tax that was previously in place, Porch said.
Porch said during his 11 years as mayor the city has not raised taxes and emphasized that the proposal won't mean any additional taxes for residents.
"It will help us keep our city up and keep it going," Porch said.
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