Clay County commissioners nix proposed business tax plan

Julie Morgan

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska

The business tax ordinance was not on the agenda Tuesday night. However, Commissioner Kristen Burke brought it up in her closing statements.

Earlier this month, Burke favored moving forward with the tax, but she said after research, lost sleep, and speaking to citizens, she’s changed her mind.

Following her comments, the board voted 3-2 to get rid of the planned business tax ordinance. Commissioners Betsy Condon and Mike Cella were in the majority, along with Burke.

If passed, businesses would’ve been on the hook for $40 a year, which could never be increased. The draft ordinance was set to be brought to the board in June.

Burke said she’d received “numerous” phone calls and emails from citizens who disagree with the tax.

She also mentioned lack of enforcement as a reason for concern. “Yes, I truly want to know what the businesses are in our county; however, if there’s no enforcement of knowing if the people are actually going to come and do this, then what good is it going to do for us.”

Another reason she’s pushing back is that the tax was tied to public safety.

During the initial business tax presentation, Assistant County Manager Troy Nagle outlined two benefits of the fee.

  1. Allows for analysis of businesses in the county
  2. Allows public safety to have an accurate list of businesses

“Why do we have to depend on a business tax to know that our businesses are safe? I’d like to explore that and find out what else we can do to know that our businesses will be safe, and our people will be safe,” said Burke.

The District 5 commissioner said she’s not changing her opinion based on the “vote them all out” views made public on Facebook. “I am in office to do what is best for our county, and if I don’t think it’s what’s best for our county, then I won’t vote for it.”

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