At the start of the meeting, Mayor Lyn Bailey greeted newly elected council member Regenia Wilkerson Jasper, saying she was lucky to be sitting between a couple of nice guys like Bob Noel and Frankie Phillips.
“At least you’re not having to sit next to him,” Phillips said, nodding at Bailey.
The council quickly launched into its business, with the first item being a second reading of an ordinance to raise the city payroll tax from one percent to one-and-a-half percent. Before the vote, though, Noel expressed his concern that the tax might not be the fairest way to earn additional revenue because only those who work in the city would be affected, rather than all the people receiving city services. Councilmember Manuel Brown said that wherever city residents work, they are likely to get hit with a payroll tax as high or higher in surrounding areas.
Phillips said he was in favor of the half-percent increase, but said he didn’t agree with the ordinance as it read because of the penalty for paying taxes late. The current ordinance requires that if an earnings tax is paid late, the person must pay 10 percent interest on the tax owed, but the revised ordinance doubled the penalty.
“If they can’t pay the one-and-a-half percent, they won’t be able to pay the other 20 percent,” Phillips said.
Phillips said he thought a 10 percent penalty was enough, so Bailey told him they could vote to change it. Phillips made a motion for the change and Brown seconded it, with the rest of the council approving the change.
Jasper said she had done a bit of research on the issue, but she did not feel comfortable voting on it. She said would have to wait and see the long-term results and would abstain from voting. Councilmember Jim Ricks made a motion to approve the tax and Brown seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-0, with Noel voting against it.
While many officials on legislative bodies and boards give a conflict of interest as their reason for abstention, City Attorney Marvin Wilson said that this was not always the case. He said that when someone on a municipal board chooses to abstain from voting, he or she has opportunity to give a reason. He said that in the past, he has observed abstentions plenty of times. Some gave conflict of interest as a reason for not voting, while others gave different reasons. Some gave no reason at all, he said.
For the full story on the tax increase, see this week's Cadiz Record.