Wentzville residents won’t be getting a proposed two-cent property tax reduction for 2016. The Wentzville Board of Aldermen voted Wednesday night to keep the general fund levy at 68 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation.
“We’ve never increased [property] taxes,” Mayor Nick Guccione said. “We’ve lowered taxes for 10 years.” Board members cited ongoing needs such as stormwater and road improvements, as well as potential new amenities, like a recreation center, that will need funding. “We’re going to have continuous growth,” Guccione said. “The people need services.”
Voting to reducing taxes, Board President Michael Rhodes said, was a “feel-good moment.”
“You could run a campaign on it–’we lowered your taxes!'” he said. “But I can’t support something that will put our city at risk.”
“The real impact will be if we get in trouble down the road and have to raise these taxes,” Alderman Linda Wright said. “We need to be prudent . . .”
Alderman Matt Swanson agreed. “We need to look forward to our city in 15 or 20 years. People want parks and trails. We’ll need more police coverage.”
“In Ward 2, we have a new school going in, on a two-lane road with no improvements,” Rhoades said.
The reduction would have resulted in a $66,000 loss to city revenue in 2016, and put about $30 back in a typical homeowner’s pocket, city staffers said. However, continued reductions could result in a loss of $25 million over the next 20 years. In that same 20-year period, a homeowner would see a savings of $1,400.
Hussey adamantly supported a reduction. “It might only be $1400, but residents–I’m fighting for your $1400 right now.” Both he and Aldermen Cheryl Kross said that increases in city sales tax revenues could cover the property tax reduction.
The board was split on the decision, with Kross, Hussey, and Sonya Shryock voting to reduce the tax rate, and Swanson, Rhodes, and Wright voting to maintain it at the current level. Guccione cast the tie-breaking aye vote.