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Village Vision News

Final agreement sought, sales tax to be rescinded

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Village seeks to clarify any remaining confusion that might exist with Maroa-Forsyth School District over repayment of the tax revenue used to build the new grade school by suggesting an intergovernmental agreement as a way of “tying up loose ends,” according to Village Administrator Heather Kimmons.

On Jan. 17, Village trustees directed Kimmons to approach school district officials with the suggestion of entering into a formal intergovernmental agreement that would reflect tenets of recent correspondence exchanged between the two entities. The agreement would reflect the Board’s recent vote to rescind the half-percent sales tax Forsyth voters approved in 2007 once the school district completes its payments on the alternate revenue bonds taken to construct the new grade school.

On Jan. 2, trustees had enacted a new ordinance by amending the original one. Kimmons said “…tying up loose ends left in the original ordinance” was the basis for the new ordinance which she crafted in consultation with Attorney Jeff Jurgens, the independent counsel hired earlier to help the Village sort through documents related to an uncompleted repayment agreement with the school district.

Trustees had asked Kimmons to seek a commitment from the school board that the district would prioritize retiring the 20-year bonds early since it was the Village’s intent to end the tax once the school district paid off the bonds. However, the school district indicated early retirement of the bonds was not possible in a letter sent shortly before the Jan. 17 Board meeting (see related article).

Before trustees finalized the new ordinance, Mayor Hap Gilbert cautioned that a segment of Forsyth’s residential area lies within the Warrensburg- Latham School District which could potentially assert a claim to revenue from this tax should the district ever decide to build within the Village limits. “If we put an end date on the sales tax, we are cutting off use of the funds for the Warrensburg-Latham School District,” the mayor said, adding that he did not know what the needs are for that district. He alluded to possible Village expansion to the west and said another referendum would be needed if that school district needed the money and sales tax funds were not available. Trustee Eric Morr noted that a separate agreement with Warrensburg-Latham would be advisable.

The passage of the new ordinance came with a 4-0 vote in the absence of trustees Larry Reed and Kerstin Trachtenberg. Later, Morr commented that the Board’s decision differs from the desire of some residents who would like “…to keep the tax around forever.” Said Morr: “If we want to use that halfpercent for another project, then we should let that project stand on its own merits. And if we have to get another vote to reinstate the half-percent, I like that, too. Let the taxpayers choose.”

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