published Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Rossville tables tax-hike plan

Audience members applaud a statement made against the proposed tax hike during the open forum portion of a Rossville City Council meeting held in the Judge Paul W. Johnny Painter Court Room in Rossville on Monday. Council members voted to table the vote on the proposed budget until the next regular council meeting.
Audience members applaud a statement made against the proposed tax hike during the open forum portion of a Rossville City Council meeting held in the Judge Paul W. Johnny Painter Court Room in Rossville on Monday. Council members voted to table the vote on the proposed budget until the next regular council meeting.
Photo by Alyson Wright.
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    Joyce Wall, a council member, thanks the audience for their input while Mayor Teddy Harris looks on at a Rossville City Council meeting held in the Judge Paul W. Johnny Painter Court Room on Monday. Council members voted to table the vote on the proposed budget until the next regular council meeting.
    Photo by Alyson Wright.
    enlarge photo

ROSSVILLE -- Taking from the rich and giving to the poor might have worked for Robin Hood.

But a tax scheme along those lines was tabled Monday night by the Rossville City Council after a crowd of about 80 packed into the council's meeting and voiced vigorous opposition.

Council members will revisit the budget at a work session at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17.

Rossville was prepared to pass a property tax hike of 1.91 mills to replace a $6.50 monthly city administration fee sent to every address with a water meter. The proposal would have made taxes more progressive and shifted the city tax burden to those whose homes are worth more.

But residents -- including many from South Mission Ridge Drive, which is regarded as Rossville's nicest neighborhood -- implored the City Council to cut spending, dip into reserves or even disband the city's charter instead of raising taxes.

"It is time for a reality check," said resident Charles Wilson, one of many residents who spoke during some 90 minutes of discussion.

Councilman Rick Buff re-emphasized his opposition to raising taxes; he and Cindy Bradshaw cast the minority votes against the tax hike on Aug. 13.

Bradshaw called for a reduction in the city's expenses.

"This is our reality folks; we have to cut the budget," she said to loud applause.

Mayor Teddy Harris -- the primary target of the crowd's ire -- expressed frustration with getting a majority of council members to OK the tabled budget. Its 1.91 millage hike had been scaled down from the Aug. 13 vote for a 3.655 mill increase.

"I don't know how long it took two [council members] to agree on this budget," Harris said, promising, "If two of them can agree on anything, I'll go along on it."

Monday's 4 p.m. work session will be at the Judge Paul W. Johnny Painter Courtroom at 500 McFarland Ave. Harris said discussion at the work session would be limited to council members. Buff encouraged interested residents to submit written comments and concerns.

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 township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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