Tax rate lower than expected

Bartlett’s tax rate might not be going up as much after all.

The city’s Board of Aldermen was expected to accept Tuesday night a certified tax rate of $1.62 per $100 of assessed property value. That’s down from the $1.67 the city originally considered when Mayor Keith McDonald proposed his budget earlier this month.

It’s a break that the city was able to offer because the tax increase always was intended to be “revenue neutral.” Because property assessments have fallen throughout Shelby County, the city needed to raise the tax rate to achieve the same income it had in previous years.

“Between the time that we spoke with the state and the assessor, our budget coordinator Eric Phan found we had overlooked some money,” said McDonald during a budget committee meeting May 23.
McDonald said additional funds were found when the city realized a tax abatement given to St. Francis Hospital would retire this year.

That money, according to the Mayor, was from a PILOT — payment in lieu of tax —program that is now fully on the tax roll. City’s use PILOT programs as an incentive for businesses to build facilities or create jobs within a community.

Bartlett’s aldermen are also seeking additional funds to support department’s expenditures.
The board will hear the second reading to adopt the budgets for the 2013-2014 general fund as well as street aid, sold waste, general improvement, drug enforcement, DEA enforcement, drainage, parks improvement, utilities, debt service and capital improvement funds.

Among those is a proposed $2 per household sanitation fee increase for individuals and businesses and increased water charges for users of more than 18,000 gallons of water per month.

According to information provided the board, 2,273 Bartlett water customers use between 17,800 – 241,400 gallons of water monthly. Those users will see an increase of $25.40 monthly consisting of an additional $3 for water and more than $20 in sewer charges. Water customers who see their bills spike in the summer months may be allowed to take part of a summer water-averaging program where they can irrigate their lawn and fill their pools without adversely affecting their sewer bill.

Also Tuesday, the aldermen were expected to pass a revised beer ordinance. The ordinance allows the board to increase fines on businesses that violate selling alcohol to people younger than 21 years of age.

The current ordinance has a $1,500 cap for multiple violations. The ordinance under consideration will mirror the state’s $2,500 maximum.

The board is also expected to approve a resolution to appropriate $46,200 for education incentive pay for fire department personnel and approve the cities’ group health insurance and acknowledge the receipt of a $7,234 H.W. Durham Foundation Grant.

In other business, Bartlett became one of six Shelby County communities to approve a July 16 referendum for a special election to establish a municipal school system. The aldermen voted unanimously for the referendum during a special-called meeting May 23.

Bartlett will follow much of the same process taken a year ago when voters overwhelmingly supported the establishments of municipal schools. That referendum was deemed invalid by U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays, which led to legislative action that opened the way for suburban schools.

BE logo squareUnlike last year’s referendum, July’s election will have additional costs associated as it will not be part of a general election.