by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
The Rogers City Council agreed to a 2014 preliminary property tax levy of $6,315,305, a 6.6 percent increase from last year.
The levy won’t receive final approval until December. Until that time, the council can decrease the amount but cannot increase it.
“Since I’ve been on the council, there’s only been one year that number hasn’t dropped before it was set,” said Mayor Jay Bunting.
The proposed tax levy represents a 40.934% tax rate. The tax rate in 2013 was 38.291%.
Finance director Lisa Wieland outlined several reasons for the amount of the levy. These include a larger tax capacity, annexation impacts, sinking funds for future projects, deferred staff position replacements during the economic downturn that are now being filled, and fiscal disparities.
Fiscal disparities is a tax base sharing law that, because of Rogers’ large commercial and industrial tax base, requires the city and many others to contribute some of their tax dollars to cities with lower commercial and industrial growth. According to Bunting, fiscal disparities costs Rogers more than a $1 million a year.
City administrator Steve Stahmer explained the $614,000 of the levy that is slated for the capital improvement sinking fund.
“A sinking fund is a savings account for capital improvements. The whole point is to save the money rather than borrowing it and paying interest,” he said.
Sinking funds can be used for any number of projects, but Stahmer said that the council has tentatively earmarked them for future road projects, as many of the city’s streets were built around the same time and, thus, will need maintenance and replacement on a similar schedule. Some of the money might possibly be used for a future new police and fire station that the Council has begun considering but is still in the process of identifying funding for.
In other matters, the Council granted approval to the Rogers Police Department to purchase new service weapons for all of its officers. Currently, most officers carry their own personally-owned weapon.
Chief Jeff Beahen reported to the council that his officers carry six different types of guns, of all different calibers. Several of the weapons are over 25 years old.
Beahen will be ordering 12 new Glock Model 17 9mm guns with holsters and magazine pouches. The purchase is expected to cost less than $6,000.