MARION (WSIL) — Marion’s mayor pitches his sales tax increase proposal to the public for the first time.
"You cannot read this proposal just in soundbites. You kind of have to read it all together and understand how the parts work together and what it tries to accomplish," Absher said after a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday. "I think most of the people here did and I’m encouraged by that instead of trial by Facebook."
The mayor held a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday to get feedback from the council and other people in the community. No action was taken.
Dan Fox owns a sports card and comic shop right next to the Marion city hall.
When he heard about a possible sales tax increase, he was worried the city didn’t ask business leaders enough about how it would impact them.
"Different options we might have to kind of lessen the blow. Some of us are going to be impacted by this more than others," Fox said. "I don’t think we can say yeah, this study says this, I think we have to be really careful about raising taxes. "
Absher wants to increase the sales tax by three-quarters of a percent while also eliminating the city’s property tax levy, only a small portion of the overall bill.
Absher said the average homeowner would save $220 annually.
The proposal aims to fund a few key priorities for the council like cleaning up the city and putting police officers in each school.
"I don’t see that there’s anymore valuable asset than your kids and the staff that you have in the schools," Absher said. "So that, to me personally, that’s the one thing that if we don’t enact this, that’s going to hurt me."
Fox said he’s not completely against the proposal, he’s just worried about the impact a sales tax increase would have on a business like his.
"Sports cards or comic books are kind of a luxury so we tend to be impacted by this stuff a little bit faster than somebody that sells food or gasoline," Fox said.
Groceries, medicine and auto sales are exempt from the home rule portion of the state’s sales tax.
Absher said if the tax doesn’t raise as much as he’s hoping, the city will just revert back.
Fox says he doesn’t believe that.
"Show me one time this city or any other government entity has ever given back a tax," Fox said. "Once they start it, it’s in."
Absher said he’s not sure how the proposal will move forward.
He said the council will definitely make a decision one way or the other by the start of October, when the state requires paperwork to have a tax increase put in place next year.
Another proposal Absher also introduced was to raise the city’s gaming license fee from $100 per year to $1,000 per year.
Absher said that proposal could change over the next few months but it could be another way to accomplish the city’s goals.