Tax board expects draft by 2005

Advisory group needs a writer to compile recommendations

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The city's Tax Policy Advisory Board hopes to have its final report ready by the new year.

Meeting once a week since last spring, the board is composed of residents who were assigned with the task of reviewing the city's taxing and revenue structure.

Board member Rich Tremaine said the board is putting the finishing touches on its last two draft chapters and is looking for an outside person to write the report.

"I have to think we will have something, a completed draft, before the end of the year," Tremaine said, adding that the committee has finished about 90 to 95 percent of the draft.

In September, the board asked the city to hire someone to write the report, but its members have not heard of anyone who has submitted a proposal for the project. Board members hope that a writer who has not been involved with the process would be able to help ensure that the report is well-organized and easy for the City Council or the public to read.

"We are pretty close to where we need someone to take everything we have and pull it together in a final document," Tremaine said.

At its last meeting, the board was fine-tuning two chapters, one about the future of the city's taxing policy and the other including a summary, conclusions and recommendations.

In some of the drafts of other chapters, board members have indicated that they will not recommend a property tax or any kind of new tax in the near future, and that they think a system based on sales tax is a stable one.

In its draft report, the board noted that the most acceptable new tax would be an accommodation tax and that a sales tax on services is one of the most significant potential new sources of revenue.

Board members also said the city could have the greatest success in generating revenue by having residents vote for property tax increases to fund large-scale capital projects, such as a recreation center.

Last summer, the board opposed forming new taxing entities, such as the local marketing district that was approved in November, and a proposed urban renewal authority, which is going before the council next month.

Board members said that a comprehensive tax plan should be in place before an LMD, URA or similar entities form, otherwise elected officials could lose control of the city's overall tax system.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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