The discussion for a one-cent raise in sales tax has been heard for weeks at Argo council meetings. After a great deal of deliberation, council members decided that they would not vote for the raise until they heard from the public.
Mayor Paul Jennings started Monday night’s discussion of a sales tax increase. Jennings said that before the council did anything, he wanted to be sure of where the money from the increase would be going.
Jennings gave a brief overview of some of the main spending points that he had thought of. These included road work and work on the city hall building (lighting, paving and handicap accessibility). He also mentioned playground equipment and the possibility of a splash pad.
“And I hope to see, in the near future, a sign that says ‘Welcome to Argo High School.’”
Jennings said that he wants the increase, if implemented, to go toward long-term projects. “I will vote positive for the one cent tax, but these are the kind of things I would like to see,” said Jennings.
He continued the discussion by saying that he believed that these goals could be reached by using the roughly $50,000 gained from the increase to pay them off. He suggested allocating this amount per year to pay of long-term goals like the ones he mentioned. “We obviously need to fix some of what we’ve got now, but I want us to continue to think about the kids,” said Jennings.
Councilwoman Betty Bradley responded to Jennings saying that she agreed that these were great items to allocate money towards.
“But maybe we should get some of the opinions from the public,” said Bradley. “Let’s see what they want to spend the money on.”
Jennings suggested that the council have the first reading of the ordinance at the next meeting. He said that this was a way to hear public thoughts.
“We’ve kind of got our hand on what the pulse of the problems are though,” said Jennings.
And though the tax increase has seemed eminent due to pass discussion, a few council members said that they are not on board yet. Councilman William Rutledge Jr. said that he would be abstaining from any vote to increase sales tax.
“I said I would not support a tax increase that citizens cannot vote on for themselves,” said Rutledge.
Councilman Scott Como said that he was not for the ordinance yet because he, like Bradley, wants to hear what the public has to say. Councilwoman Ann Brown and Councilman Herchel Phillips agreed with this as well.
And though there is no requirement for a public hearing, the council was in full agreement that this meeting needs to happen.
“We should just show that we have nothing to hide,” said Bradley. “We need to be open with our citizens.”