published Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Rossville drops fee; property taxes rise

ROSSVILLE -- An unpopular Rossville fee will disappear and property taxes will increase to make up for the difference, under a 3-2 vote by City Council on Monday night.

Also, the Rossville Public Library won't see its funding cut this year, City Council decided by the same margin.

Those were the highlights of a City Council meeting that packed the Rossville courtroom building with almost 60 people. The unusually heavy crowd consisted of library supporters and -- judging by applause -- opponents of the 3.65 property tax millage increase that council approved on its first reading.

The millage increase consists of two parts: roughly 1.65 mills will prevent the city from tapping its reserves, and a roughly 2-mill increase will replace a $6.50 per month administration fee charged monthly to every residence with a water meter.

"I'd rather leave the administration fee alone and not go up on taxes," Councilman Rick Buff said to loud and sustained applause. Buff and Councilwoman Cindy Bradshaw voted against raising the millage.

Reasons Mayor Teddy Harris cited the eliminating the administration fee included its unpopularity, problems with billing it and the fact that "is more of a regressive tax. The [property] tax is more of a progressive tax."

Councilwoman Joyce Wall noted that the city hasn't raised taxes in 12 years.

One thing Wall didn't like about the administration fee is that large apartment complexes with only one water meter, such as the 110-unit Rossville Apartments, only pay $6.50 a month for all their units -- the same as a single-family residence.

City Council split the same way on maintaining the library's funding, with Buff and Bradshaw opposed.

Library Director Lecia Eubanks warned that the state will cut its funding if too much local funding is cut. Bradshaw felt "backed in the corner" by that, saying the library would go unscathed while Rossville is making cuts to other city departments. For example, Rossville's budget has eliminated the recreation department, and volunteers will handle its operations.

Councilman Hal Gray said, "We're just going to have to all work together. We're all going to have to give some."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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