Super Council: It is now more difficult for future councils to raise taxes
KINGMAN – Some members of Council were enthusiastic in supporting a supermajority vote requirement of 5-2 for future increases to the TPT rate at Tuesday’s meeting, but Mayor Monica Gates and Councilwoman Vickie Kress believed the threshold for those important decisions should be higher than what was proposed.
Council’s agenda for May 15 had both supermajority votes, 5-2 for new taxes and 6-1 for tax revenue rededication, included in a single ordinance. Gates requested two separate ordinances be drafted, one for each supermajority vote proposal.
“For these two very important issues, I would support a supermajority of six for both of these issues, so that’s why I would like to consider them separately,” Gates said at the May 15 meeting.
Councilwoman Vickie Kress agreed, stating that implementing new taxes is “so much more important than rededication of TPT money.”
Both Kress and Gates voted against the supermajority vote of 5-2 for increasing the TPT and use tax rate Tuesday. Gates said she could not vote in favor of the ordinance since she believes the supermajority requirement for both issues should be 6-1. Kress agreed with that sentiment.
“I’m also going to vote my conscience that it’s very reasonable to ask for six out of seven members of the City Council to approve taking more money from our citizens,” Kress said. “A five out of seven vote I think is not substantial, it doesn’t make a difference.”
Kress made her statement following an opposing opinion from Councilman Travis Lingenfelter, in which he said he would “vote my conscience,” and vote yes. Lingenfelter said he doesn’t see the issue as being “us vs. them,” an argument he said he’s heard. He believes all the citizens of Kingman win or lose together as a community.
Councilman David Wayt and Vice Mayor Jen Miles were of the opinion that increasing the required vote to a supermajority of 5-2 from where it is now at 4-3 is a substantial change. Wayt said a 5-2 supermajority does more to protect citizens’ interests. Miles agreed, and believes that five councilmembers being in agreement is enough to move an issue forward if elected officials are representing their constituents to the best of their abilities.
“Based on the history that I’ve experienced, there can be disagreements on raises in taxes,” Miles said. “(If) five of them think that this is necessary based on the informed decisions (from) staff, I’m comfortable that those five are enough to move this forward.”
Lingenfelter also spoke about the duties of Kingman’s elected officials.
“Everyone that sits up here, they were elected by the citizens of Kingman based upon what they campaigned on,” he said. “I can only speak for myself that all my votes are for the future generations of Kingman, and to make this a healthy and vibrant community. And if you don’t agree with those, as citizens we can vote out people who sit up here.”
Miles noted that Council’s decision to increase Kingman’s TPT rate by 1 percent in August would have failed if a supermajority vote of 6-1 was required. She believes that decision was critical to “move Kingman forward.”
Gates took a different approach in addressing last year’s TPT increase.
“As the vice mayor suggested, if this had been in place last year, the six out of seven supermajority to improve a tax increase, we would not as a community be looking at an initiative that could take away the Council’s right to move or allocate or raise revenues as necessary and prudent,” the mayor said.
The supermajority vote for rededicating TPT revenues passed without much discussion or debate. Council was united in unanimously approving an ordinance requiring a supermajority vote of 6-1 to rededicate TPT revenues for other purposes.
“This council essentially made a promise to the citizens of Kingman that half of that was going to go to our pavement preservation,” Lingenfelter said of the rate increase at Council’s May 1 meeting. “And for that, I would want to see a supermajority of six because that’s a promise that I take seriously and I want to make sure that it’s difficult to reallocate those monies.”