The Canton City Council on Thursday directed city staff to begin the process to advertise to the public that it plans to set the rate at a future meeting.
The council will consider approving the 1.25 millage rate for the fire district, which would fund the construction of at least two new fire stations in the city limits. If the rate is set at 1.25, the city estimates it will generate about $930,000 on an annual basis.
It also approved revising an ordinance to establish the fire district, which deletes a sentence that states “No funds from the general fund shall be used to defray the cost of providing fire protection within the district.”
The vote to amend the ordinance and to move ahead with advertising the proposed rate was approved with a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Glen Cummins opposing.
The ordinance allows the city to impose an ad valorem tax onto property and it would be collected in the same way it collects property taxes.
However, no exemptions would apply to the tax and the revenue collected will pay for enhancing fire protection.
Cummins urged the council to rescind approval of the ordinance as it is bound to face “significant legal challenge.”
The decision to approve the fire district was applauded by at least one person.
Former council member Pat Tanner commended the five council members for making the “tough” decision.
“I’m ready and willing to pay my share,” she said, reminding the audience that she is a senior citizen.
Several of Canton’s seniors have spoken out in opposition of the proposal as they fear it would take away homestead exemptions granted to them.
Tanner lamented the “misinformation” that had been spread and said there are citizens who are willing to contribute towards the cost of building new stations. She said she believes there are more people out there who share her belief.
“I believe we are part of the silent majority,” she said.
The council tabled discussion on its proposed five-year plan.
Councilman John Beresford, who had been working on the plan, said he wanted to have more time to streamline the proposal.
“Now we have something to work with,” he said,” referring to the council’s earlier decision to move forward with setting the millage rate for the district.
The council also approved the second reading of its fiscal year 2013 budget. The budget is set at $31 million, down slightly from $32 million. The budget will take effect on Oct. 1, the start of the city’s fiscal year.
The balanced budget does not include a millage rate increase, any furloughs or layoffs. It has money set aside for the city to consider merit pay increases for qualified employees.
It is also based upon the city leaving its millage rate of 6.88 mills unchanged.
A homeowner of a $200,000 house with a standard $5,000 exemption paid about $510 in property taxes this year.
The Canton City Council also:
n Approved a proclamation for the Collins Dixon family;
n Approved a request from FactoryMation to reduce its building permit fee;
n Approved an insurance license fee increase to $75;
n Approved a resolution to establish an administrative fee of $25 for new and renewing occupational tax licenses in the city;
n Approved memorandum of understanding to allow Northside Hospital-Cherokee to maintain and utilize the west Lakeview water tank as a backup water supply for its campus;
n Approved contract with Utility Partners to operate the city’s water and sewer system for $1.5 million over a five-year period;
n Denied a request from the Stormwater Advisory Board to reduce the city’s stormwater fee by 25 percent;
n Tabled proceeding with approving its share of the SCADA computer monitoring system at the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir;
n Approved a request from the Cherokee County Board of Education to allow Academy Street between West Main and Archer streets be designated as a two-way street and to designate the same portion as a no-parking zone; and
n Accepted the private streets from the Villas at RiverStone subdivision.