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Aldermen want to move forward

The city of Paris last week took a step closer to holding a special election this year on a proposed 1 percent increase in the city sales tax.

On Monday, April 1, Paris Aldermen asked City Attorney Cory Wells to write an ordinance calling for the special election. It will be ready by the City Council meeting set for Monday, May 6, Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers said.

Rogers has proposed the sales tax increase as a way of raising revenue for infrastructure improvement projects. If the sales tax increase is approved by voters, Rogers has said he’ll ask Aldermen to eliminate the $12 monthly ($144 a year) fee charged residents to trash collection.

Rogers said the if the ordinance is enacted by Aldermen in May, the earliest a special election could take place is the second Tuesday in June, which is June 9. An ordinance calling for a special election has to be approved at least 60 days before the voting.

Also, Rogers said last week, he’s prepared to put forth an ordinance eliminating the trash collection fee at next month’s City Council meeting. Barring the passage of an emergency clause, it would take three months to approve the ordinance, he said.

“We’d have to read it for three months before we could vote on it,” Rogers said. “We would pass it as soon as we start collection of the sales tax but we’re going to get the process started so the public knows it will be eliminated.”

A 1 percent sales tax hike would put sales taxes charged by the city at 1.5 percent. The half-percent now on the books benefits Mercy Hospital in Paris. Once the half-percent approved by voters last year for highway work goes on the books in July, and if voters approve the 1 percent increase, sales taxes in Paris would be 9 percent.

They are now 7.5 percent. The county has a one percent sales tax and the state has a 6 percent sales tax.

The increased tax rate would bring in between $500,000 and $600,000 annually, Rogers said. The city would take about $200,000 from those proceeds to pay for trash collection and the remainder will be spent on infrastructure improvements. The tax would be sunset, or go away, after 10 years unless voters want to continue it, Rogers said.

Rogers said Aldermen at the meeting were receptive to the proposal.

“I’d say they were very receptive,” Rogers said. “But I know they want to hear more from citizens and I do too. So this is the time for people to tell us what they think because we’re serious about putting this on the ballot later this year, maybe this summer.”

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