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Rates on the rise around Liberty

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LIBERTY – City residents will see several increases in the upcoming years as city leaders voted to increase the property tax rate and the master fee schedule. 

Taxpayers will see a .008242 cent increase in the tax rate, coming in at .6204 cents per $100 of taxable value. 

Following two lengthy public hearings on the proposed tax rate and budget for the next fiscal year, the council voted 5-2 for the increase, with councilmen John Hebert Jr. And Tommy Brents voting against the increase. 

Both council members applauded the city staff for their work on the budget and tax rate process but had issues with the increase. Hebert looked at several areas of the proposed budget, hoping to find some cuts, but never found an area where they were possible during the budget hearing. 

Both Hebert and Brents expressed their desire to leave the rate at least the same as last year if they could not cut the budget, but again, no solution was offered. 

Several citizens engaged the council in a very civil discourse, asking questions they hoped would help find solutions to cut the tax rate.  

Any change to the budget would have caused the council to delay the adoption of a tax rate and budget, forcing an emergency meeting to do so before the October deadline. Brents made a motion to table adopting a budget and do just that, but his efforts died for lack of a second. 

Hebert joined the other council members to approve the $44,014,950 proposal on the budget issue, while Brents voted against the effort. 

Residents will also see increases to the master fee schedule, with water, wastewater, and solid waste rates increasing.  

Water and wastewater rates are set to increase by 8% each year over six years, already in the fifth year. Those raised funds will be dedicated to paying water and wastewater infrastructure bonds. 

The increase in solid waste is 2% for residential, while commercial will see a 5% bump. 

Council voted on a new convenience fee for credit card transactions and increased fees at the Liberty Municipal Golf Course and T-hangers at the Liberty Municipal Airport. Council voted 6-1 on fees, with Brents voting against. 

During the public comment period, the council heard an update to the remodel at Walmart, with a proposed grand re-opening date set for Friday, Nov. 3 at 9 a.m. The store remains open as the project moves forward.