Columbus council still divided on tax rate in new budget

Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The town would receive about $484,317 from vehicle and property taxes next fiscal year compared to an estimated $441,000 from the same taxes this fiscal year.

With a 39 cent tax rate, the closest whole number to bringing in $441,000, the town projects to generate $449,723 next fiscal year.

Council members Michael Gage and Margaret Metcalf have said they want no tax increases for residents and the budget needs to be cut in order to go with a revenue neutral rate.

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Council members Richard Hall and Ricky McCallister have said they don&squo;t want a bare minimum budget next year only to have to raise taxes in subsequent years. Hall has stood up for employees on several occasions, saying the town should cut &dquo;things&dquo; rather than employee raises. McCallister says the 39 cent budget is so low that he&squo;d rather go with 42 cents next year and hold that rate for the next few years.

But Metcalf says she is not in favor of a tax increase for employee raises.

Gage agrees and says most people are glad just to have jobs right now, and many businesses are cutting pay.

Mayor Kathleen McMillian, who would break a tie vote, has leaned toward agreeing with McCallister and Hall.

The town&squo;s new budget year begins July 1. Council is scheduled to hear public comments Thursday at 7 p.m. at town hall.