Callaway City Commissioners Open the Door for New Property Tax

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Callaway city commissioners have been saying for weeks now that they cannot run the city without more money, and the most logical place to find that money is to institute a property tax.

As you can imagine the idea is not sitting well with land owners who have never had to pay a city property tax.

Property owners got a final chance to speak out against a proposed property tax Tuesday night, and it was the first time city commissioners actually spoke out about the city's financial troubles.

Most were not optimistic about filling the cities holes without some kind of property tax.

Callaway is already $800,000 in debt, and city officials say a property tax is needed to pay for storm water drainage, roads, city equipment and infrastructure, as well as the payrolls of city workers.

A few alternatives to a property tax were discussed at Tuesday's meeting, including a utility tax, and revenues that would be generated from the county's proposed half-cent sales tax, but at least four commissioners agreed that those alternatives wouldn't even come close to paying off the city's debt.

“You can decrease and cut all you want, but we're still going to be in a deficit. Something’s got to be done," says Commissioner Charles Griffin.

"This is for our future. The people have to understand that whatever we decide it is for the future of our city, so we can get it on a prosperous track," says Commissioner Shannon Aufdencamp.

Mayor Ken Meer was the only one completely opposed to a property tax at this time.

He wants to wait to see if the half-cent sales tax is passed, but city officials say that the city can still play the waiting game, while the city draws up the tentative city budget with a property tax included.

If they levy the highest allowable mileage rate it would amount to about $300 a year, but most commissioners say they'd rather see a combination of a lower property tax along with a utility tax that would cost most residents about $6 a month.