City okays budget, tax rate, incentives

Tax rate unchanged, but hotel-motel levy raised

Rockdale City Council members eased through two called meetings on Monday, passing a $6.7-million budget, okaying utility incentives to a local business, approving the ad valorem tax rate and holding a split vote to raise the current hotelmotel tax.

Hotel-motel tax

The split vote occurred on the proposal requested by council members Allan Miller and Toby Johnson to raise the hotel-motel sales tax rate from 5.5 percent to 7 percent.

With all members present, council members Willie Phillips and Doug Calame sided with local hotel owners, who did not want the increase, and voted against the measure. But the rest of the council okayed it and it passed 4 to 2.

The hotel-motel tax is used in part for the Chamber of Commerce budget and on events designed to promote tourism.

The higher collection rate is effective this week. Hotel owners say their tenants “shop around” more than the council realizes and they lose business when the hotelmotel tax rises.

Business help

The council also okayed extending water and sewer lines to the business park currently being used for on-site heavy equipment training by Associated Training Services.

Last month, the council drew criticism and even talk of a rollback election for delaying its approval of the incentives as the town struggles to replace jobs lost to the Alcoa smelter closure.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the utility extensions at a total cost of $16,280. Funds from the Municipal Development District will cover the costs.

Budget The city also okayed local tax rolls at $186,271,992 on which it based its tax rate of 66.2775 cents per $100 valuation (the same rate as last year).

The council approved a budget of $6,740,556. That compares to last year’s total budget of $6,385,032.

Knauf said budget additions for fiscal 2011 include:

• $334,585 for Municipal Development District, funded after voters in May created a new larger district encompassing the entire town plus annexed areas.

• One police hire. • A three-percent increase for city employees.

Total budget $6,740,556 $6,385,032
General fund (includes police, fire,
parks, library, street maintenance, $2,545,031 $2,502,677
Enterprise fund (self-supported,
includes water, sewer and sanitation) $2,765,098 $2,749,785
Debt service (total) $957,648 $962,835
Tax rate (per $100 valuation) 66.2775¢ 66.2775¢

Budget includes:

• $334,000 for the new Municipal Development District,

funded by voter-approved half-cent sales tax in May. • Includes $504,000 for Capital Improvements Program. • Includes one new police hire. • 3-percent pay increase for city employees.

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