Crawford Town Council is considering the creation of a pamphlet to educate the public on a mill levy increase which it plans to place on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. At the July 20 work session, Mayor Wanda Gofforth noted that the town's severance tax revenues declined by $821.56 between 2014 and 2015, while mineral leasing declined from $16,348.90 to $7,807.91 or $8,576.99.
With another coal mine closing in 2016, said Gofforth, 2017 numbers will also decrease.
In 1994, Crawford property owners were taxed at a rate of 7.417 mills. That number has declined over the years, and the town currently levies 2.420 mills (.00242). The 2016 budget proposes general property taxes of $6,418. An increase of 1 mill would bring in an additional $2,489.09, according to a handout provided by Delta County Assessor Debbie Griffith at the June 15 work session; an increase of 3 mills would result in an approximate revenue increase of $7,467.26.
"The increase won't even cover 2014 and 2015 losses in severance tax," said Gofforth. "But it sure would be an increase that would help put some money back in the coffers."
Trustee John Paton asked why, with shrinking revenue, council would even consider the 1 mill option, and trustee Hetty Todd requested the town research whether the town can consider 4- and 5-mill increases.
"Education is going to be the answer," said Gofforth. She said it has been recommended that the town create an educational pamphlet, and offered the idea of a "facts and rumors" theme. Otherwise, she said, people won't know what the town is talking about. "If the town is to continue to provide water and sewer and other services, we've got to keep the funds coming in." The problem, said Gofforth, is "the first thing people think is, 'Oh, you're going to raise my taxes.' "
"You've got to face reality," said Paton. "It isn't, 'Oh my God, you're going to raise my taxes.' What are you going to do? You going to pitch a tent and live in town because it's closed?"
Paton said council should be "straight up front" with voters and provide "facts and figures. This is what we've got, this is what we need, this is what we're asking for."
A breakdown of how increases of 1 and 3 mills would affect individual property taxes is available at Town Hall.
Following discussion of other agenda items, trustee Tammy Broughton asked about an agenda item to discuss Peaches RV, a small RV park owned by Carl and Cheryl Page, of Crawford. Mayor Gofforth responded that the item was "scratched" from the agenda after Broughton received her council packet. According to Gofforth, the Pages informed the town that they couldn't attend the meeting and the decision was made to move discussion of the RV park to a meeting that they are able to attend.
Council will discuss creation of an open records policy at the Aug. 3 meeting.