Council members Linda DeLeon and Floyd Price voted against the tax rate which passed at Tuesday's city council meeting. On Monday, DeLeon announced her intentions to propose a tax rate two cents higher than the one council voted on. She cites concerns over public safety and code enforcement as her reasons, but during the council meeting DeLeon made no comments at all when a tax rate of .4597 was passed four to two.
Mayor Marc McDougal says, "There was ample opportunity to make a motion. I even asked after the motion was made for discussion and had a long pause before I took a vote and nobody spoke." Councilman Tom Martin says, "I would think if you're going to vote against what citizens have approved, you'd want to explain your vote."
When asked why she didn't speak up about the city's proposed tax rate at Tuesday's meeting, DeLeon says she had already voiced her opinion to fellow council members. She says, "I had (expressed my opinion) on an individual basis, talking to them about would you let me keep a penny so we can hire additional police officers and there was resistance so I put my objective out to the audience, the taxpayers, the hundreds who come to town hall meetings to tell them I heard you."
The council's .4597 tax rate is a decrease of more than eight cents per $100. Council members who passed that rate say it was promised to citizens in order to offset a rise in sales tax and property valuations. Martin says, "For a new rookie council member to come up and say we need to go against what citizens voted for and raise taxes, no matter how nice it would be, is a slap in the face to voters in this community."
DeLeon says, "We're going to have to play 'she supports higher taxes.' I don't. I'm a taxpayer and business owner but what I want is safety for myself, my business and my family and that's not occurring with the type of budget we have."
Mayor McDougal says, "I'm not real happy, we start trying to do a budget through the media which is what Linda did with sending out a press release or having a press conference yesterday (Monday). But if that's the way Linda wants to play, I can play too."
Councilwoman Phyllis Jones was absent from Tuesday's council meeting. Interestingly enough, council members on both sides of the vote told us they thought she'd vote with them. NewsChannel 11 called the Jones to find out exactly how she would have voted and she said she is not sure, that she would have to be there to hear both sides. She couldn't go on record for or against the new tax rate.