The City of Marysville is moving forward with a pair of new taxes, aimed at improving local streets.
At Monday night’s meeting, City Council approved legislation to impose a pair of $5 increases on vehicle registration beginning in 2022. The fees, which are expected to generate about $230,000 annually, can only be used for street maintenance or paving projects. The two pieces of legislation passed 6-1, with only council member Aaron Carpenter voting against the increase.
City Manager Terry Emery reminded council members that the city has $0 allocated for street paving included in the 2021 budget. He said that could change after the first of the year, after the city knows the final 2020 revenue total.
The fees will not be collected until 2022 and will not be available to the city for use until 2023.
Emery said council has been discussing the increase for nearly a decade. The discussion moved to action earlier this year when council moved two pieces of legislation, each one increasing license plate fees by $5 for every vehicle in the city. Initially, the plan was to have one of the $5 fees take effect in 2021 and the other begin in 2022.
In April, Carpenter opposed the legislation on grounds that many families were struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He convinced council to change the legislation so both fees would start in 2022. He then pushed to delay the third reading of the legislation until November in hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic would have passed and the economy would rebound.
At Monday’s meeting, he said that has not happened yet.
“We are still in the pandemic,” Carpenter said, noting it wouldn’t be “prudent for this council to levy an additional tax while we are still in a pandemic.”
He said the finance committee needs to find a way to pay for city priorities in ways other than increasing taxes.
“You guys call yourselves conservatives, there are conservative ways to go about this,” Carpenter said. “This is not a conservative way to go about it.”
He said city officials need to have a serious conversation about cutting spending. He said city residents want council to have the conversation and questioned why members who had been on council nearly as long as he has been alive haven’t been able to fund street paving without increasing taxes.
He said council could wait until April to pass the tax and not impact the legislation or the collection. He said that delay would allow the city to get a better picture of 2020 revenue and where the economy is headed.
Council member Mark Reams intimated that Carpenter had not even read his copy of the city budget. He said Carpenter offered no cost cutting measures during the budget process so “don’t come here and lecture six other council members.”
“We don’t need to hear any more of that nonsense,” Reams said, offering examples of how he has helped the city save millions of dollars.
Council member J.R. Rausch said the tax needed to be passed now because with the pandemic surging, things could get more difficult for families and they would be even less receptive to the increase then.
Council President Henk Berbee added that if the city, “keeps kicking the can down the road, nothing gets done and pretty soon things are going to be looking pretty deplorable as they have in the past.”
Council member Mark Reams said the city needs to commit about $1.5 million annually to maintain the city streets at their current level.
Berbee said support for the legislation is a matter of how you ask the question. He said people would support the increase knowing it preserves the value of their property and allows the city to continue spending on quality of life expenses such as parks, parades and city celebrations.
Council member Alan Seymour said that by the time the taxes are collected in 2022, the pandemic, “should be pretty well in its place.”
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