The City Council has taken the first steps toward imposing a utility-users tax, citing a need for money to cover expected budget deficits of $350,000 a year and a five-year, $17-million capital improvement program.
The council this week directed the staff to prepare a tax ordinance for an informal public hearing at the Feb. 18 council meeting. There will be a formal hearing on March 4, and the council could give initial approval to the tax at that time.
City Manager Donald F. Guluzzy has proposed a 7% tax on telephone, water, electric and gas bills within the city. It would raise about $3.4 million a year, he said. The average family would pay $12.50 a month or $150 a year, and the average business $28 a month or $336 a year, city officials said. The yearly tab for the large Marineland aquatic park would be about $50,000, officials said. If the council approves the tax in March, collection could begin in July, Guluzzy said.
Guluzzy said the city has to raise more money or face a decline in facilities and services. More than half of the $17-million capital improvement program is for maintaining and improving streets and storm drains.