Nearly two dozen Menan residents gathered in the Menan City Hall Chambers Thursday night to hear a proposal that would increase their taxes if approved during a special May election.
Menan Mayor Tad Haight and the Menan City Council explained to the attentive residents that the city’s roads are depleted and increased expenses have led to the need for additional funds. Residents are currently taxed .004 percent per $100,000 of assessed value. The council is proposing an increase of .001 percent.
If the tax levy is approved, residents will see an approximate $15 increase per $100,000 of assessed value per month, roughly equaling a $176 increase per year. City Clerk Allyson Pettingill said it would be a two-year budget override rather than a permanent one, therefore in two years the increase would revert back to .004 percent.
Haight said with the two year override, the public can see how their tax dollars were used. Then in two years if the council needs to request an increase again the public can decide if the original increase was worth it.
“It’s your right to expect results out of that,” he said.
With the additional $40,000 each year, the council said $25,000 would be allocated for roads, $10,000 to revamp the city’s savings account and $5,000 for equipment.
“We have spent the savings account,” Haight said.
The other option the council addressed was cutting back on services. Councilman Ron Jones said in the last few years, utilities are up seven percent, equipment is up 43 percent and improvements are up 38 percent.
Haight indicated that even if the city cut all maintenance costs, it still wouldn’t be enough.
“Are you willing to spend $15 per month for roads,” he said.
A majority of the residents who spoke during the meeting stated they were neutral on the matter. They said they just wanted to make sure that the funds will be used as promised and questioned which roads are priorities.
“I would like a plan and controls of the plan,” one patron said.
Menan Public Works Director Matt Walker said the first priority is to chip seal the newest roads and then put a thin overlay on the roads beginning to crack.
“We’ll save the good roads first,” he said.
Haight said roads that have been depleted the most will likely not see the benefits of the tax increase. However by the city repairing and maintaining roads, the chances it receives a grant to repair roads increases. For example, Haight said Main Street needs a complete overhaul, but the estimated cost to do so is $2 million.
“We would like to get to a point where everyone has a good road. It’s just the speed that we’re able to deliver, because it’s not a fast process.” he said.
Another concern shared by a patron, and the council, is how the increase would impact individuals on a set income. Because the increase will impact the residents on an individual basis, the council suggested those concerned about the increase to meet with Pettingill to see what the exact increase will be for them.
Resident Kent Clark on the other hand questioned the fairness of the increase. He argued that the city should have a flat increase of $150 per year per homeowner rather than it being based on the assessed value of a home.
“There is a simpler way to do it,” Clark said. “We all drive on the roads. They (tax system) penalize everyone who tries to better themselves. It’s not even close to being fair.”
Despite that, a majority of the patrons stated they don’t have issues with the increase, but want to make sure funds are used appropriately.
“It’s going to be on the May ballot,” Haight said. “And we want you to know what we’re going to do with your money.”