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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Pleasanton council votes to put 1% sales tax on November ballot

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

What was billed as a town hall meeting to discuss the 1% sales tax for streets was lightly attended on Monday. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

By Roger Sims, Journal staff

PLEASANTON – Voters in the city of Pleasanton will have the opportunity to vote in November whether or not to approve a 1% sales tax to create a street fund.

A lightly attended town hall meeting on Monday was intended to give residents a voice on the matter. However, of the 14 residents who attended, about half of those were residents who regularly attend council meetings.

Following the usual open forum for public comment, the city council voted unanimously to approve a resolution that would place the issue on the November ballot.

One residents raised an objection to the tax, two others asked for clarification and another defended the proposal.

Bill Skipper, who recently opened a micro-greens retail and wholesale operation at 13th and Laurel streets, was critical of the proposal, and toward the end of the comment section he said he would carry a petition against the sales tax vote.

He first asked city Administrator Teresa Whitaker questions about the proposal, including how much the 1% tax would raise annually.

Whitaker said that according to 2022 tax information, the proposed tax would raise about $300,000 a year. The language on the ballot will indicate that it is only to be used on street maintenance, repair and replacement.

That would also include machinery and equipment needed by the public works crew to maintain and repair the streets, she said.

Skipper charged that Oakes Ford, the auto dealership in Pleasanton would loose business because people would travel to Louisburg to purchase their cars and trucks instead of Pleasanton.

However, according to Linn County Treasurer Janet Kleweno, a person who buys a car or truck pays only local taxes when they get the license plate for the vehicle. So only Pleasanton residents would pay the state tax of 6.5%, the county sales tax of 1% and the combined city sales tax of 2%, which would include the 1% general sales tax and 1% street tax.

That would be the same no matter where the Pleasanton resident purchased the vehicle.

Kleweno said that a resident of Louisburg would pay the state sales tax, plus local sales taxes for the city of Louisburg.

Councilman Jake Mattingley also pointed out that Louisburg would have a higher sales tax rate even if Pleasanton added the 1% tax. He also said that at 21 miles of pavement, Pleasanton has the most miles of paved streets in the county.

But Skipper said he would be happier with dirt roads and a good business environment than smooth roads.

However, Mayor Mike Frisbie told Skipper that the poor conditions of the streets in the city are a constant source of citizen complaints.

Resident Linda Dudley asked for confirmation that the tax was only going to be for streets.

Whitaker confirmed that it would be. That it would be different from the 1% sales tax approved by city voters in 1995 that could be used on any city expenses.

Skipper said that the new sales tax would remain in place for 28 years, but Whitaker said that wasn’t necessarily the case.

In a previous council meeting, she talked about the need to keep the street tax in place for the long run. She said that streets would always need to be maintained and repaired and that having the sales tax in place would always assure that money for the streets was there.

It is expected to cost $8.4 million dollars if all of the work was done next year, but Whitaker said the city wouldn’t have all of the money next year. However, under the city’s plan all of the streets would be repaired over the next few years.

One other option is being considered by the council as well – issuing general obligation bonds for a higher amount and then using the anticipated $300,000 income from the streets sales tax to pay that bond off. The would help the city get a large jump on repairing more streets quickly.

It is anticipated that Casey's at the intersection of Sixth Street and U.S. Highway 69, which has considerable sales from both local and out-of-state highway travelers, would be the main source of the sales tax money.

Resident Angelina Randall said she favored the sales tax plan. She said improved streets would be a draw for people who wanted to move to Pleasanton, and she predicted it would help improve property values.

She said landlords often have to lower rents because of the poor condition of the streets. She predicted that the added sales tax would be painful in the short run but would be good for the city long term.

Skipper charged that the city did not have a fully developed plan in place ahead of the sales tax vote and said he would carry a petition to oppose it.

But Whitaker said that the city couldn’t fully develop the plan until voters decided whether they wanted the tax to improve streets.

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