10/2/2012 11:04:00 AM Williams sales tax hike on hold City officials fail to post proper notification on website, process begins again this week to raise tax .5 percent to generate funds for road repair
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - A sales tax increase set to go in effect this week has been put on hold after officials with the city of Williams failed to post proper notification on the city's website.
The ordinance that increased sales tax by .5 percent while also eliminating the city's food tax has now been rescinded.
According to Williams City Manager Brandon Buchanan, city council members will be required to start the process over hoping to have the ordinance, designed to generate funds for street repair, in effect by March 1.
"The technicality, and it was a silly one, hidden way back in the statutes is a requirement that we post notice that we were going to take a vote or talk about increasing the tax 60 days ahead of time on the city's homepage of our website," Buchanan said.
Buchanan added city officials are confident there was more than enough notification through meeting and public hearings to alert the public to the change. He said the city had notification on the website 35 days prior to a vote with budget meetings 60 days prior.
"It was a surprise to nobody in town that we took that vote or that we were even talking about it," he said. "But, it didn't meet the technical letter of the law. A kind of obscure statute."
Minutes from meetings concerning the sales tax increase were posted prior to the 60-day requirement but Buchanan said the city's legal representation confirmed that because there was not an official homepage notice, the ordinance must be rescinded.
The process will begin all over again this week. Buchanan said notification will be posted on the homepage to jumpstart the 60-day period. Council members will likely vote on the ordinance at their Dec. 13 meeting. Following the vote, there is a second 60-day waiting period required by the Arizona Department of Revenue.
"Unfortunately, it puts us behind," Buchanan said.
According to Buchanan, money already budgeted for the current fiscal year, about $270,000, that would have come from the sales tax will likely be made up with cutbacks in street department projects.
Funding from other sources like Bed, Board and Booze tax and impact fee funds are also helping to offset the loss.
Buchanan added that budget cuts to other departments are not expected.
"We're still ahead in the game, just not as far ahead," Buchanan said. "We're just not going to be able to do as much street work as we thought. And, we'll have a balance of money that we'll still have to make up somewhere in the general fund. I think as a result of the different efforts we're already undertaking for cost saving, we'll still be fine on it."