Debate Generated Over Offering Residents Tax Relief
~ by Bob Volpe ~
Last Thursday’s regular meeting of the WP City Council was dominated by a ceremony in honor of a veteran member and a continual fight over a possible bid to offer residents tax relief.
The meeting featured a presentation in honor of former veteran council member Carrol Harvey, who resigned from council prior to completing her final term.
The presentation began with Mayor Neil Levy giving a speech on Harvey’s accomplishment throughout her tenure. Levy said, “It’s an honor to recognize Carrol for everything she’s done not only for the community but also for the country.”
Harvey has served in various duties for the country and community for more than 42-years.
Levy presented Harvey with the mayor’s pin, a bouquet of flowers, and a framed copy of a map of the city.
After Levy spoke, Harvey talked about her time with council, thanked everyone. In a playful gesture, Harvey gave each council member a little token to remember her by. She purchased Little Golden Book series children’s books that she attributed the titles and characters to her feelings toward each council member. She explained, “In all challenges of life they may be answered by a lesson learned or observed in these books.”
Harvey then proceeded to give each council member a personalized book and explained the reasoning behind each book. Councilman Noel Sawyer was given a copy of “Peter Pan,” Councilman Paul Saunier was given “Grumpy Cat.” Councilwoman Hilary LaBarre was given “I’m a Unicorn.” Councilwoman Kellie Case was given, “The Little Red Hen.” The newest member of council Darwin Naccarato, who took Harvey’s seat on council, was given her personal copy of the Constitution. Mayor Pro Tem Val Carr was given, Dr. Seuss’ “Sam I Am.” And finally, Mayor Levy was given, “The Jolly Barn Yard.”
Harvey also took time to express her appreciation for her time on council and lauded the work of the planning commission and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
When she was finished speaking, Levy closed the presentation with a simple statement. “You will be missed.”
No Changes In City’s Mil Levy
The next hot item involved a presentation by City Manager Darrin Tangeman regarding the current Woodland Park mil levy, which has been the same tax rate imposed since 1991.
At issue is whether this tax rate should be reduced, or if the city should maintain the status quo. The city couldn’t raise this rate, unless voters give the okay.
Tangeman’s powerpoint slide show outlined in detail the various city objectives and goals that are affected by the mil levy. He stressed the fiscal challenges facing all municipalities when it comes to taxes, and particularly the challenge of the city’s struggle with debt service incurred by the building of the Aquatic Center and Memorial Park.
When he completed his presentation, the council debated the issue of whether or not to lower the current mil levy. This is a political fight that often occurs this time of year.
The debate was heated as many members of council had hoped they could lower the mil levy and provide some tax relief for citizens. But in the end, the council voted 5-2 to keep the mil levy at the current level of 16.249. Saunier and Carr cast the two no votes.
In other council news, there was a brief discussion of who should certify council member’s expense reimbursements. At present, the city manager approves these expenditures. Councilwoman Kellie Case suggested that council should be the body that approves these reimbursements. In the end it was decided the city manager will continue with this unless the reimbursements exceed a $500 threshold.
During public comment, Vicky Alexander, of Thunderbird Cabins and Rainbow Valley Ranch spoke of her discontent with property rights. Her concern was that the city planning commission is making decisions that are out of their purview.
Levy directed her to express her concerns with city staff and that they would work with her on any issue.