JEFFERSON — The Jefferson Board of Aldermen adopted a one-cent property tax increase as a part of its 2019-2020 fiscal year budget, increasing the tax from $0.38 to $0.39 per $100 valuation, during its regular meeting on Monday, June 24.
The 2019-2020 budget passed by a vote of 4-0, with Mayor Bluferd Eldreth and alderman Max Yates absent for the vote. The adopted budget totals $1,722,367 as requested in last month’s meeting.
The one-cent property tax increase will add roughly $12,000 to town revenue, which alderman Mark Johnston said will be allocated for the police department.
“We’re preparing for trying to keep officers on duty 24/7,” Johnston said. “This new road is going to bring a lot more traffic and people to town. We’re trying to be prepared for that situation.”
The approved budget sets aside $497,200 for the Jefferson Police Department, including $267,000 for salaries, $261,000 for retirement, $10,000 for automotive supplies, $15,800 for insurance and bonds and $10,000 for new equipment.
For streets in the town, $327,400 was set aside, including $68,000 for salaries and wages, $59,000 for utilities, $75,000 for street repair and $50,000 for new equipment. Howell said in last month’s meeting that the $50,000 for new equipment is needed to replace a new truck for the town, on top of regular equipment costs.
The approved budget also allocates $248,750 for administration. This includes $124,000 for salaries and wages, $35,000 for professional services, $10,800 for retirement and $8,200 for utilities.
A total of $897,400 is allocated for water and sewage, which Town Manager Cathy Howell said will be used for repairs and maintenance for the water and sewage plants.
During the meeting, Alderwoman Cathy Ballou spoke on behalf of some town residents who want to hold an election to allow alcohol by the drink in restaurants.
“It is a revenue source that would keep the town from having to raise taxes,” Johnston said.
Johnston added that with the growth that West Jefferson is experiencing, restaurants will soon be looking for new areas where they can open. Johnston said that the Town of Jefferson could be a good area for expansion, and allowing sales of alcohol by the drink could lead to more restaurants opening in the town.
Johnston also expressed concerns regarding the idea.
“It’s an expensive proposition to put on a town election,” Johnston said, adding that there will be plenty of opposition to keep liquor out of Jefferson.
He then suggested that those interested in holding an election should form a committee and gather signatures. A certain percentage of town residents would be required, and those who sign the petition would have to be tax-paying residents of the Town of Jefferson and be a registered voter in the town limits.
“It’s a number to show us that they’re interested,” alderman Charles Caudill said.
No official decision was made by the Board of Aldermen in regards to the election to allow alcohol by the drink in restaurants.
The next Jefferson Board of Aldermen meeting will be held on Monday, July 22, at 7 p.m.