The City Council unanimously decided Tuesday not to raise property taxes after all.
After a 90-minute discussion, the council voted to retain its current property tax rate. It had been considering an average increase of $5 or $9 on a homeowner's annual property tax bill - depending on a couple of different options."Now you can leave with a clear conscience," resident Ralph Holmes told council members as he left the meeting.
Living on a fixed income, he said the tax increase would have cost him money that would be better spent on groceries.
In speaking against the tax increase, Holmes said the proposal went against what the Council promised last fall - not to raise taxes to help fund the new $10 million municipal building.
City Manager Jack Bippes said not raising property taxes will simply reduce the city's reserve funds and delay some capital improvement projects. He said the city's capital projects list is some $10 million strong.
Bippes acknowledged the city shouldn't raise taxes to pay for the new city hall, but the proposed increase would benefit other city projects.
However, council members felt a property tax increase wasn't worth public outrage. Some residents, they said, would still believe the promise against a tax increase had been broken.
Also, keeping the current tax rate means the city can still increase its overall property tax income through new growth and the increased valuation of property. The valuation of property in Clearfield jumped from $600 million to $660 million this year.
The additional property tax also still means the city can afford to fund an additional police officer, to be used primarily at Clearfield High School. The new officer will also be funded in part by a federal grant.
The council Tuesday night also opted to pay a one-time, $52,000 judgment levy, out of the city's reserve funds and not from a property tax increase. The levy is Clearfield's share of a court battle against area utilities where the county lost and has to rebate $1.4 million to the companies.
Councilman Curt Oda is still angry over residents having to pay it in the first place. "This judgment levy is a travesty," he said.
Another councilman, Ivan Anderson, said he wants the council to be better informed on the city's overall budget expenditures and income during the next year. He especially dislikes city departments being able to move around line-item expenditures without the council's knowledge.