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Liberty talks tax rates and green fees

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    Liberty City Council members Libby Simonson and Diane Triggers, along with Mayor Carl Pickett, vote in support of the proposed 2022 tax rate. Tommy Brents, pictured with his hand down, was the sole no-vote Tuesday night.

It was tax rates, golf course expenditures, and green fees, with a heavy focus on the latter at Tuesday night's Liberty City Council meeting.

As for taxes, the council approved the FY2022 proposed tax rate at .6122 cents, with a slight drop in the rate saving taxpayers .025 cents per $100 of valuation over last year.

According to City Manager Tom Warner, the total values of taxable property are up 2% over last year at an estimated $717,135,490 for a total increase of $1,409,964 in taxable value.

According to Warner, the city put forth its best effort to put together a reasonable budget and lowered taxes as best possible, including what he said would amount to $27.81 savings for the year on the average homestead exemption.

"We cut the budget to bare bones and would like to lower taxes more," said Warner.

The vote was not unanimous as Councilman Tommy Brents, a well-known advocate for lower taxes, declined to go along with his fellow members.

"The city is proposing a lower tax rate than last year, but one that (on average) will likely cost taxpayers more due to higher appraisals. The proposed rate is the maximum allowed by State Law without requiring an election be held to ask voters for approval. I believe most taxpayers would reject this rate if given the choice, so I voted No. It won't be the last time," Brents told The Vindicator.

Brents pledged to vote against any proposals that did not include a tax rate cut, and while this year's proposed rate does cut taxes, he believes it was not low enough considering the increased property values in the city.

Council will consider both the tax rate and the city's budget at the Tuesday, Sept. 13 council meeting and hold public hearings on both issues.

Brents is encouraging anyone with input on those issues to make sure and attend the hearings.

Warner also pointed out that most of the budget is dedicated to personnel.

"If you are really going to cut taxes, then you really have to cut positions," said Warner.

Warner had high praise for his team and their work in developing a budget and setting the tax rate for the upcoming year.

Moving to the links, there was a lot of talk about the Liberty Municipal Golf Course and the work going into reopening the publicly owned facility.

First up was a pair of additional expenditures on the course parking lot expansion, including replacing several metal pipe supports at the cart barn and the need for additional materials to complete the parking lot. Council approved all those costs and brought that project to a total of $200,723.36, with funding from the Cambridge Fund.

Finally, city leaders discussed a preliminary plan on course use fees, which officials hope will see an October opening.

The plan includes discounts for those in-city and cart fees for all players. One area the city was planning was private cart storage, but some council members wanted that to be revisited before making any final decisions.

There will also be membership rates for individuals and families and discounts for golfers under 18, seniors over 60, and military.

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