The Decision for Progress is Yours
Vote - YES
Sales Tax Referendum - November 6, 2012
How special would our city be with:
• Newly Paved Streets
• Level Sidewalks
• Recycling Program in Place
• Drainage Programs to Minimize Effects of Flooding
• Equal Fire Protection for All Residents of Lebanon
• A Revitalized Public Square
• Park & Trail Expansion
(Soccer & Baseball Complexes to Expand Tourism & Recreation
Opportunities; Pet Parks, Walking Trails, Bike Paths, Splash Pads)
• Silent Train Whistle Zones
• Economic Recruiter to Spur Jobs and Help Local Businesses
• Weekly Chipper Service
What Can You Add to This List?
Pennies to Dollars for Progress
It’s hard to comprehend that a 1/2¢ increase in our local sales tax can generate over $3.5 million per year for Lebanon. Support of the sales tax referendum shifts a large percentage of the tax burden off of our citizens and onto the traveling public who use our facilities.
Putting Pennies together over the course of a year - this is what is possible for Lebanon if the county elects to opt out of this referendum and the citizens of Lebanon vote “yes” in support of this path to enable Lebanon to balance its budget. It will also provide dollars for community amenities which will greatly increase quality of life issues, help create new jobs, and increase everyone’s property values.
We ask for your support of this sales tax referendum to help secure a strong financial future for the City of Lebanon, to continue to provide services and return services to their original level of service, and to keep property taxes at their low levels. Remember low property taxes will help generate jobs and revenue.
WITH GROWTH COMES RESPONSIBILITY
Progress comes with a price tag. Over the last decade our city has grown in size and in total population. Associated with this growth is a price tag which reflects the maintenance cost of our present level of services as well as increased expenses for services that are needed due to our continued growth.
For the last three years, the Mayor and members of the City Council have been consumed with discussions on how to balance a budget during a challenging economy that reflected large increases in cost for utilities, fuel and health insurance, while revenue receipts remained far below previous highs and unemployment rates soared over 10%.
We debated whether to implement a Stormwater Fee to help address drainage issues, raise property taxes (current level 34.56 cents), and/or initiate a Sanitation Fee to aid in balancing our shortfall along with other possible revenue sources.
Looking at some of our neighboring communities, we recognize that our sources of revenue are not sufficient to cover the cost associated with the improvements and achievements of neighboring communities.
Lebanon Compared to our Neighbors
We have balanced each revenue short budget for the last two years by committing General Fund Reserves to balance our needs. This commitment to use close to $4 million, if needed, to cover any shortfalls is not the way to operate government and is for sure not the way to run a business. To balance last year’s shortfall of just over $2,000,000 it would have required a 25¢ plus increase in property taxes. But times have been extremely hard and people were hurting. We didn’t need to place additional hardship on any family, so no tax increases were made.
The economy is beginning to show a turnaround and new jobs are becoming available which will help reduce our unemployment rolls, but our city is still short on revenues needed to meet the needs and expectations of our citizens and businesses.
We can expect this year’s budget to reflect a shortfall due to the continued increases associated with utilities, soaring fuel cost, ever increasing health insurance cost, and the need to address issues we have ignored for years; although, we expect to regain some of our previous position in revenue collections. The 2012-2013 year budget for the City of Lebanon will include not only the bare necessities needed to operate our city but will also reflect expenditures needed to meet the responsibility associated with growth and improvement. (Projected $2.5 million short fall for this year, would require at least a 32¢ property tax increase to balance the budget.) (In 1992, Lebanon’s Property Tax Rate was 78¢. Today, Lebanon’s Property Tax Rate is 34.56¢.) We propose to tap the General Fund Reserves one more time knowing that steps are being taken to secure new revenues.
Ordinance No. 12-4097 will request a Referendum of the People to be held to increase the local share of sales tax by ½ cent. If the county decides to not participate and if approved by voters in the City of Lebanon, this ½ cent increase is expected to generate over $3.5 million in additional revenue. To generate this amount of dollars for city coffers would require an increase in property taxes of over 43¢.
In surveying businesses and their business clientele, we find that many of Lebanon’s businesses rely heavily on non-resident customers. A large portion of our sales tax revenues is generated by people who are not citizens of Lebanon. They are the traveling public who stop at businesses located at our five interstate exits. I am suggesting that we let others help pay the cost of the services they are utilizing instead of placing that entire burden on our own citizens. One of our largest sources of sales tax dollars is a local shopping venue along I-40. More than seventy-five percent of its customer base is attributed to people who are not residents of our city.
As long as this funding source remains in place there will be NO need for a property tax increase or Sanitation Fee for many years. These additional dollars will enable us to address concerns, which we have been unable to address due to lack of funds. The burden of high property taxes and an assortment of other fees on our residents can be avoided.
These pennies, which become dollars, will result in progress for our city.
Lebanon Residential Property Tax Rates (1990-2012)
City leaders are dedicated to balancing our budget and positioning the city for the future.
Over the years, we have been fortunate to have increased revenues to support the expansion of city services and amenities to our citizens. We have experienced the reversal of our growth over the last four years. This Sales Tax Referendum will give the citizens an opportunity to help guide the future of Lebanon. Keeping our property taxes low will encourage Corporate America to place their bet on Lebanon and Wilson County. The result will be more jobs, more revenues and quality of life amenities.
NEEDED input from the citizens is key in the decision making of how best to utilize these funds this coming year and years to come upon passage of this referendum. Passage of the Referendum will provide dollars needed to address roads, sidewalks, flooding issues, possible recycling program, and other quality needs for Lebanon. If any questions, concerns, or suggestion arises please call City Hall and ask for the Mayor (443-2839).
Download a .PDF version of this document...