MASON — Perhaps the third time is a charm, as the Mason Town Council has changed its mind once again on a way to generate extra revenue.
Council members in early August voted to establish a $2 municipal fee that would appear on water bills, in an effort to raise funds. By mid-August, the council rescinded that, and instead agreed to move forward with a municipal sales tax that would charge consumers shopping within the corporation.
But at their most recent meeting, members decided to scrap that idea also, and instead look at raising some of the rates on the Business and Occupation Tax, according to Mayor Donna Dennis.
Dennis said in order to establish the sales tax, since the town is a Class IV municipality, it would have to completely eliminate the B&O tax, something she is hesitant to do.
“I fear eliminating the B&O tax is a bad move,” she said. “It would be hard to reinstate, if necessary.”
The mayor added the one percent municipal sales tax would be taking a chance that the majority of businesses will remain in town, and that people will continue to purchase taxable items. Certain items, including food, prescription drugs, and others, would not be included. There would also be substantial cost in setting up the tax.
Raising B&O taxes in certain areas would still produce extra revenue, is already established, and contains less steps to increase than to begin a new tax. The areas being considered for the hike are retail sales, services, and rentals.
The town rates are currently less than half of what the state allows to be collected through the B&O tax. The council is considering raising these areas to come up to half of the allowable rate. According to Dennis, just raising the retail B&O rates would make up the projected amount if the town was to institute a one percent municipal sales tax.
The council did not vote on the B&O increase during the meeting because it was not on the agenda. The mayor said one council member suggested an open meeting with business owners prior to a vote, which she plans on having prior to the next meeting. She said if B&O rates are raised, she would like to see it take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
It has been noted in past meetings that the town has been spending more money than it has been bringing in the last few years. Although the town general fund had a carry over amount of over $187,000 at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, Dennis said that amount would be exhausted in a few years if the trend continues.
The mayor has also stated the town took in $460,000 in the last fiscal year, but spent $490,000. She said earlier that there is nowhere to cut expenses.
In other action, the council:
Agreed to replace the floor in the community room at cost of the materials;
Heard a concern regarding some potholes, as well as large rocks, on town streets;
Agreed to pay CSX Railroad over $8,000 for the representative that oversaw the Clifton water extension project, with money to come from the prior water project tank fund;
Discussed the Oct. 12 Harvest Festival, to be held at the park from noon to 4 p.m.;
Agreed to allow employees to take advantage of direct deposit of their payroll checks;
Agreed to add $500 to the $300 received in donations to purchase a merry-go-round for the park playground, and to accept a donation of two rocking toys from Chuck and Angie Stanley; and,
Set Oct. 31, 6 to 7 p.m., as trick-or-treat.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.