Originally Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2012, 9:56 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 10, 2012, 10:46 pm

Colona residents upset with higher taxes

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By Lisa Hammer, correspondent@qconline.com

COLONA -- City council members Monday voted 8-0 to raise next year's property tax levy by nearly 20 percent, from $367,837 to $441,405, despite some residents saying taxes are so high they may move.

The hike would raise taxes about $40 on a home with a market value of $100,000.

Gary Brakeman asked why the state was so far behind in payments to the city and suggested austerity measures such as those in Europe are in order. Because Colona hasn't attracted significant business, he said, it's "always going after the private individual."

"I'm getting out of this town because I cannot afford to live here anymore," he said. "I can buy a beautiful home with a swimming pool in Florida for a heck of a lot less than I'm paying here."

Steve Anderson suggested the city delay plans such as buying the former Smokey's restaurant at 709 1st St. After a closed session Monday night, council members voted 8-0 to buy the property for $60,000 with hopes of attracting a new business.

Former alderman Don Ropp said he if was a member now, he would vote against the tax hike. He called it a "shock and burden on the public."

He also said the housing development in the tax-increment-financing district didn't help the city, and having Erik Jones build his new showroom outside the city limits was a "missed opportunity and a mistake."

Robert Edwards suggested the canal be dredged in an effort to attract a bait shop or other business. He said making a paycheck stretch was "a struggle more than it ever has been."

"I can barely afford to buy meat, and it's just getting old," he said."We need to challenge ourselves to find revenue in another way. If it keeps going like this way much longer, I will find a community that's more sustainable for me."

Mayor Danny McDaniel said the council disliked higher taxes but also was concerned about public safety.

"I don't really want to jeopardize the safety of the community by eliminating officers," he said. "Do I want to pay it? Heck no. But the only other solution I know of is to cut services."

Not everyone opposed the tax increase. Chris Wells, who said he owns two homes and was "not real happy" about higher taxes, said Colona hadto dig itself out of a hole, "and I'm willing to pay my part."

The council also:

* Abated $123,237 in taxes from general obligation waterworks and sewerage bonds issued in 2004. The bonds were refinanced earlier this year to save about $80,000.

* Approved the sale of two squad cars.

* Approved a $1,500 contract with Shive Hattery for professional engineering services at the sewage treatment plant to advise updates and a timetable over the next 20 years.

* Canceled the Dec. 26 meeting. Thenext regular council meeting will be Jan. 14.