Kingman council to finalize property tax proposal

A city property tax proposal is one step closer to the ballot.

The Kingman City council voted 7-0 Friday to put a primary property tax on its Feb.

3 agenda to finalize plans to put the issue on the May ballot.

"We can point to the future as a council or be safe and do nothing," said Mayor Les Byram.

"We can provide the leadership to continue the quality of life in Kingman (by putting the tax issue before the voters)."

The council voted to proceed with the option to put a primary tax authorization not to exceed $5 million per year before the voters.

The levy would be set annually by the council and appear on the property tax bill collected by Mohave County.

Tax rates discussed ranged widely from $35 to $150 per year for an "average" value city residence.

Figures were based on a home with an assessed valuation in the $85,000 to $88,000 range.

"A house in that range probably cost or would sell for about $110,000," said Coral Loyd, director of financial services for Kingman.

"An $88,000 assessed value is taxed on ten percent or $880.

A levy of $1 per $100 would cost that owner $88."

Councilman Dave French said Kingman residents should be aware that the city budget has already suffered cuts in state and federal funding.

"We are $500,000 in the hole now from cuts that have already taken place and know will come," French said.

"We could find ourselves unable to come up with the matching money for future grants if money gets short."

The council has discussed the need for a more diverse revenue stream that is not subject to the fluctuations of a sales tax and that would provide dollars for needed capital projects.

"Capital projects are the first cut to balance the budget," said Councilman Jim Baker.

"The needs are not going away any time in the future."

Byram said the downtown Little League Park, the completion of Stockton Hill Road, the second phase of Airway Avenue, downtown sidewalks, the skateboard park and the current construction of Canyon Shadows Park are examples of capital projects paid from the general fund of the city.

That kind of project would not be possible with continued cuts from state and federal levels.

"We (city residents and taxpayers) are going to have to get used to taking care of ourselves," said French.

Vice mayor Phil Moon said the decision is up to voters in Kingman.

"I don't consider this to be our tax," Moon said.

"We would be shirking our leadership duty if we did not present this to voters.

After all, they have ultimate control and can elect another council at any time."

Councilman Ray Lyons said he fully supports the primary property tax option.

"The sales tax is self defeating and already near eight percent," Lyons said.

"We need the projects and I support the property tax to pay for them."

Lyons brought his property tax bill with him to show others all the property taxes he pays to other taxing authorities such as schools, county governments and the library and flood control districts.

The tax bill helped him understand the impact of the proposed tax on his house.

Councilwoman Monica Gates said Kingman voters have control of spending and any levy through the budget process.

"The council shows responsibility every year through the budget process," said Gates.

"Any levy would be a direct result of spending decisions and subject to state expenditure limits."

Several council members discussed the need to take a clear message to Kingman residents.

"An informed voter can make a reasonable decision on the city capital needs and the need for a property tax," said Moon.

The council and staff will take the message to the citizens after the Feb.

3 council meeting if the resolution to call for a May vote is confirmed.