CLARKDALE - With revenue headed south and expenses headed in the opposite direction, the Clarkdale Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to increase the town's sales tax and sewer rates.
Sales tax will go up by 0.75 percent to 3 percent. The current sales tax is 2.25 percent. Construction sales taxes will increase from the current 3.25 percent to 4 percent.
Sewer rates also will go up from the current base rate of $20.47 per month for residential users to $28. Commercial users will pay the same base rate of $28 per month, but their usage fees will go up from $1.90 to $2.25 per 1,000 gallons in excess of 5,000 gallons per month.
Sewer rates were raised in 2002 from $12 to $16.80; in 2004 to $19.80; and in 2005 to $20.47.
A few people showed up for the council meeting to object to the tax and rate increases.
During a public hearing on the sewer rate increase, former councilman Frank Sa told the council, "This is a real bad time to try to pull a 36 percent increase on the town."
Mayor Doug Von Gausig said that if rates aren't increased then money for the wastewater enterprise fund will have to come from some other source.
Councilman Jerry Wiley said that source has to be the people using the wastewater system.
The new rates become effective 30 days after the council approved the resolution but will not show up on customers' bills until the June billing cycle.
During discussion of Ordinance 318 to increase sales tax rates, Sa asked if the tax increase could be repealed if the town's budget situation improves. Kathy Bainbridge, town clerk and finance director, said the council could repeal a tax when it decides to do so by passing an ordinance.
Robyn Prudhomme-Bauer, Clarkdale resident and business owner, said, "I'm not happy about this. It is a detriment to us."
Prudhomme-Bauer said that sales tax rates really do play a role in customers' decision making. "Understand that it is a hardship on us."
Before the council voted, Von Gausig said the town is looking at a budget shortfall of about $600,000. He pointed out that town staff and the council have split that amount between cost reductions and revenue increases.
Town Manager Gayle Mabery said the sales tax rate will become effective May 15, but the town will not see revenue from the increase until July.