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11:29 PM Thu, Jan. 17th

Council tables sales tax vote

KINGMAN ­ The city's search for an added revenue stream to fund capital improvement projects continues as City Council decided Monday night to postpone a vote on a half-percent city sales tax increase.

Council voted 6-0, with Councilman Tom Carter absent, to postpone a decision until no determined date by what appeared to be a consensus on possibly re-proposing the option to the public during next year's budget process.

Resident and former Mayor Carol Anderson told the council during public comment that the increase was unfair to the public and that council should have developers foot the bill for new growth.

"The burden of finance should be put on those causing the growth," she said.

Anderson referred to the public's previous opposition to tax measures and told council to "put the issue on the ballot and let the voters decide. Don't circumvent them."

Vice Mayor Tom Spear countered Anderson's argument by saying that the current council is taking a harder line in addressing infrastructure issues that were deferred in earlier years, indicating that problems in funding access and flood control were imminent.

Chamber of Commerce President Beverly Liles said that the chamber surveyed local businesses about the increase, and with a 27-percent response, a narrow margin showed support, though with hesitations.

Liles suggested on behalf of the Chamber on a cap for purchases of $10,000 or more and designating the increase only for capital improvement projects.

Councilman Ray Lyons said he was concerned about the impact the increase would have on low-income residents and retirees on fixed incomes, and that it "could be pushing businesses over the hill."

"It should be used as a last resort and I don't think that's now," he said.

Mayor Monica Gates suggested waiting until the budget sessions and presenting the increase in a comprehensive package.

Gates said the decision amounts to "how do we maintain quality of life or what are we going to cut?"

Indicating that he wouldn't be on council for the next budget session, Councilman Phil Moon said that though he has traditionally been against tax initiatives, "there is a place for taxes to provide for goods and services."

Moon suggested a sunset sales tax that would expire after a certain period of time.

Councilman Jim Baker said that it was easy for the public to be against tax increases without knowing the big picture, suggesting to attendees at the meeting to "come to our planning sessions with some help and ideas and give us some suggestions."

In other council action, the eight rezoning measures regarding master plan community Celebrate Homes were approved unanimously except for two resolutions dealing with commercial property, which Baker and Moon opposed because of a stipulation with the zoning.

Residents in the East Kingman area known as Vista Bella previously agreed with representatives of Celebrate that before allowing commercial development in certain designated parcels, traffic levels on Airway Avenue must exceed 10,000 trips per-day.

Richard Campana, a developer with stake in the Vista Bella property, said that the stipulation was unfair and market forces should dictate when development occurs.

"Let's not make a deal on behalf of one or two homeowners," he said.

Celebrate representative Doug Swallow said his company would support a lower number if council decided otherwise.

Michael Bihuniak, who has spoken on behalf of area residents in earlier sessions, said that he wanted to see more residential development before commercial and that developers were already "chipping away" at their agreement before rezoning is passed.

Baker thought the threshold didn't make sense and Moon thought that it prevented residents from having amenities close by rather than having to drive across town.