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Proposed sales tax measure pulled from agenda

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Lebanon City Council approved a number of items on its agenda at Tuesday’s regular meeting, but the main item was pulled from consideration.

An ordinance to increase the sales tax in Lebanon to 2.75 percent, up from the current 2.25 percent, and seek a referendum for citizens to vote on it was pulled from the agenda after City Attorney Andy Wright determined that in calling for a sales tax referendum, the city must publish notice of the first reading of the measure in the newspaper at least seven calendar days prior, which was done.

However, Wright noted that state election officials were concerned about the wording of the ballot for the referendum which included reference to the property tax. They thought it might be confusing to voters. The measure noted that if the sales tax hike was approved then the recent increase in the city’s property tax would be decreased.

In addition, Wright noted that the city charter gives “sole authority” to council in setting a property tax rate and by including it on the ballot question “would be transferring that authority to the voters, albeit indirectly, which would violate our charter provisions. Based on these two positions, they will not permit our county election commissioner, Phillip Warren, to place the ballot question on a referendum ballot,” as it was written.

Any change in wording will require the notice to be republished at least seven days prior to first reading.

Wright said he advised that the ordinance be pulled from the agenda for last night’s meeting, and he will work to find language for the ballot that would be acceptable to state election officials. He added he hoped to have the measure ready for council to consider by the second meeting in January, set for Jan. 21.

Council, at Tuesday’s meeting, approved the following items:

  • A resolution to sell and scrap surplus items throughout the city.

  • An ordinance to establish and fill the position of Drainage crew Supervisor.

  • An ordinance, on third reading, to approve bids for additions and modifications at the Water Treatment Plant.

  • An ordinance to approve Warren & Associates to perform consulting engineering and design services for the proposed water and sewer operations building on Knoxville Avenue.

  • An ordinance to approve bids for the East Apron drainage improvements at the Lebanon Municipal Airport.

  • An ordinance to authorize the purchase of license and support for the Archonix Public Safety Software at the Lebanon Police Department.

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