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City seeks to fund fire, police, streets

by Annette Beard | April 7, 2021 at 8:56 a.m.

A one-cent city sales tax is planned to be put before the voters in July. One-fourth of the tax revenue will be allocated to repay a capital improvement bond for street improvements. The remainder will be equally dedicated to the Police and Fire departments.

City officials met in a special committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, March 30, seeking counsel from Kevin Faught, senior vice president of Stephens Public Finance, and Ryan Bowman, bond attorney with Stephens.

Both Police Chief Lynn Hahn and Fire Chief Jack Wassman were present.

Council member Cody Keene said he did not believe the public would vote for the tax if the funds were not allocated.

"I have heard that it needs to be designated and it needs to be very specific," Ginger Larsen, council member, said. "I think it's easier on the chiefs ... and will be easier on Sandy, too."

One question city attorney Shane Perry raised was the definition of "public safety" which was at one point being offered for the purpose of the tax revenues. Bowman said the term can mean "any number of things... more than police and fire" and the city officials should decide how they want to word the ballot.

"If the citizens vote on it and they pass it, then that's what they want; that have the right to voice their opinion whether they want it to go to police and fire," Larsen said.

Bowman explained that if city officials ask for a 1% city sales tax, they can use a quarter of the revenue to pay off the bonds and then, once bonds are paid off, allocate the excess of the quarter to the Street Department.

City officials plan to consider the ordinance to call for a special election in July at the next City Council meeting.

"This was a very well educated session," Keene said. "We've got our work cut out for us."

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