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by Mark Cheffey
The city of Palmyra’s property tax rate will remain the same for 2023 as it was the year before following action by the city council during its regular meeting last Thursday.
In other business, the council discussed a plan to revamp Main Street parking downtown as well as the ongoing effort to establish a community improvement district.
By a unanimous vote, the tax rate was set at $0.6192 per $100 assessed valuation the same as for 2022.
Palmyra’s city property tax rate has stayed flat or has even been lowered for years.
In the past decade, the city tax rate, which is actually set at the state level, has fallen from $0.6489 in 2014 to $0.6339 in 2017 before rising to $0.6621 in 2018 and then back down to $0.6192 in 2021.
It was the consensus of the council to move ahead with plans to revamp parking spots in the downtown area of Main Street in an effort to improve traffic safety.
Street Commissioner Austen Dornbrger outlined a plan to remark parking spots in order to eliminate ones near intersections.
Council member have been receiving complaints about a lack of visibility for motorists trying to turn onto or cross Main Street from side streets.
According to the plan, devised by Dornberger and Police Chief Eddie Bogue, the re-drawing of parking spots downtown would result in the loss of eight parking spots.
However, it would add three more with the elimination of the no-parking zone in front of the U.S. Post Office.
The new parking spot configuration would also put the city in compliance with its own ordinances which prohibit parking within 20 feet of intersections or crosswalks and next to fire hydrants.
“I’m sure it will be an inconvenience to people who are used to parking downtown, but I don’t think it will take them long to get used to it,” Dornberger said.
Bogue asked the council about changing the size of the parking spots to also improve visibility and help comply with city law, but it was taken into advisement due to the high curbs which force motorists to park further away from the curb than allowed.
Mayor Rusty Adrian asked council members if there was continued interest in pursuing a community improvement district for the downtown business area in light of the difficulties in fostering interest in the effort.
“I need some direction on how to proceed,” Adrian said after noting the CID is well short of the number of property owners within the district boundaries who are committed to it.
He also noted the taxing district, which would divert a portion of property tax revenue away from other taxing districts for 20 years.
For example, the CID would result in a $48,000 loss in revenue each year for the Palmyra R-I School District.
Adrian said he met with Jason Harper, R-I superintendent, who said the district wants to do what it can to support the community while acknowledging the lost revenue would be significant.
“That’s one employee for a year,” Adrian told the council.
The CID tax revenue, which would amount to approximately $82,000 annually, would be used to build a pool of funds for use by property owners in the district seeking to make improvements to their property.
Adrian also said business owners already have other options for obtaining funding.
It was the consensus of the council to table the issue until next month.
Council members said they had been receiving complaints about a subcontractor for Bright Speed Internet.
They said workers were leaving wire down in peoples yards and wire spools in drive ways.
BPW Superintendent Brent Abell said he had been looking into the situation and is now planning to require safety meetings with contractors before issuing permits for such work in the future.
City Attorney James Lemon said the city’s options for doing something about the complaints have been limited by the state legislature which has taken local control away from cities regarding internet cable installation.
Bogue reported Officer Kristen Rathbone is ready to serve as the school resource officer within the Palmyra School District and will be implementing the new START program in the middle school.
Adrian reported the city received a $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation to be used for leadership training.
After some discussion, the council also opted not to renew its sponsorship of the Ignite Entrepreneurial Program offered by the HREDC.
Dornberger said street resurfacing projects are tentatively expected to start Aug. 28.
He said plans are for MoDOT to close the Main Cross intersection with U.S. 61 while the resurfacing work is underway at that location.
He also reported his department had completed its in-kind work associated with the W. Main Cross/Bradley Street bridge project.
Abell reported his department helped the city of Hunnewell which had an electrical substation failure.
He said the BPW was able to sell three old, unused transformers to Hunnewell as replacements.
Parks and Recreation Director Doug Meyers told the council HOMEBANK is offering to pay for a new pavilion at Flower City Park to be located at the arena.
He also praised the street department, BPW, police department and city hall employees for all they did in helping make the Marion County Fair a success.