Vernon residents gathered at city hall Tuesday night for the first public hearing on property tax rate hikes. A number of residents are concerned with the 18 cent increase commissioners are looking to add.
It's a big increase for residents who say they are already strapped for cash.
“It's sad that we are in the shape that we are in,” said one Vernon resident, and city employee. “It's even sadder that we are trying to fix it in six months, because everyone is hurting.”
Residents said the increase follows other increases added this year to water and sewer rates.
“Are we going to have a bunch of people around town on fixed income that can't even flush their toilets?” said another Vernon resident and previous city commissioner. “I think you all need to look at this before you make any final decisions.”
He is just one of many residents that said the city's problems and solutions are resting on just a few shoulders.
“A low 30 percent of individuals own property,” said another Vernon resident. “I think it’s unfair that you are going after such a small group to pay for the sins of the city.”
While many residents say it shouldn't be that way, other residents understand the harsh reality.
“We're in a pickle,” said Pam Gosline. “I don't want to see property taxed raised either, but I don't want to live in a distressed city.”
The property tax is expected to rise to 56 cents, an increase that could generate more than $700,000 to address city mounting city debt.
And while many say it’s an amount that may turn away businesses and future residents, others said it needs to be done.
“Until someone in the community comes up with some kind of viable solution, we just have to swallow hard and listen to what they are proposing,” said a Vernon resident.
Residents will have another opportunity to speak out at the second public hearing. The last one is set for September 8th at 5:30 p.m. at Vernon City Hall.
As the new rate generates funds for city debt they do have the opportunity, next year, to lower those rates. Commissioners won’t officially adopt the rate until September 22.