Pair of Palmyra tax proposals aimed to fix stormwater, transportation woes fail at polls

Palmyra city officials will review what future plans they could take for future projects like a city-wide storm water plan, after voters said no to a pair of sales tax initiatives Tuesday, April 3.

The city proposed two sales tax issues — the first would have amended the city’s current capital improvement tax from 1/4-cent to a 1/2-cent tax — which would be applicable for a city-wide storm water plan and other capital improvement projects. The second ballot issue called for a 1/4-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation projects. The capital improvements sales tax proposal was voted down 211 to 206; the transportation sales tax proposal was opposed by 228 voters, with 192 voters voicing their support.

Mayor Loren Graham said having to separate the issues could have caused some confusion, and he pointed out that the weather and low turnout could have also played a part in the results.

The proposals were made official after a 1/2-cent sales tax was dissolved Aug. 1 for the completion of four-lane construction on U.S. 36 and I-172. The resulting sales tax amount would have been unchanged from the pre-August level. If both measures had been approved, Graham estimated that an additional $200,000 in annual funds would come in for projects like storm water improvements, in addition to the $115,000 to $120,000 earmarked each year for transportation projects.

Graham said the existing capital improvement sales tax will continue to be used for transportation work, just as it has been since he took office. Projects like road resurfacing or bridge work will continue as they have in the past, once enough money has accrued in the existing capital improvement projects account.

But there isn’t enough money available to begin phases of a city-wide storm water plan that officials and residents have identified as a top concern. The plan was designed by Klingner and Associates — the project estimate of about $3.5 million could be brought down to $2.5 to $2.7 million if city employees performed some of the work. Graham said many of the supporters of the storm water plan likely turned out to vote for the first capital improvement proposal, which missed approval by five votes.

Graham said he was “disappointed” the measures didn’t pass, but city council officials will look at future paths that could bring the issue before voters again — possibly in a more streamlined form.

“We’ll just have to put our heads together and see if we can come up with some options, and then maybe present something again,” he said.

The voter-approved dissolution of the U.S. 36 TDD means the counties involved will likely see a windfall, but that money will be used on the county level, not on the municipal level.

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