Jackson City Council met in special session this week in order to discuss Ordinance 02-18, which deals with the placing - by advisory election - the issue of council enacting a one-percent income tax on primary election ballots this May.
During the special meeting, held Monday night, Feb. 5, Law Director Joe Kirby explained to council that this ordinance is not meant to be an amendment to the one adopted at its meeting on Monday night, Jan. 22. At that time, council voted 6 to 1 to place a one-percent city income tax on the primary-election ballot in May, with all the revenue to be used to help fund the Jackson Police Department.
Rather, Kirby stated this action was the result of him being "overly-cautious" or even "paranoid." To clarify further, Kirby stated Ordinance 02-18 is simply meant to make clear to voters the position of the Supreme Court on these types of issues. He said the issue that will appear on May 8 ballots is simply meant to obtain the advice of the citizens on whether or not they want such a tax to be enacted by council.
However, regardless of the outcome of that vote, council does still reserve the right to impose or not impose the tax.
Council adopted Ordinance 02-18 in emergency fashion by a vote of 6 to 1, with Councilman Ron Queen casting the sole "no" vote.
The ordinance from the Jan. 22 meeting, which was also passed immediately on an emergency basis, also served to repeal council's December ordinance to impose a one-percent city income tax. However, the imposition of the tax was in the process of being derailed by a referendum petition, which would cancel the imposition of the tax and instead put the issue before the city voters in November's general election. The petition has already been presented to the city auditor's office for a required period of public inspection and it reportedly has many more signatures than necessary to be successful.
Repealing the ordinance effectively makes the referendum moot and enables the income-tax issue to be voted on by the city electorate six months sooner.
If approved, the income tax, once fully implemented and effective, would generate an estimated $1.2 million for the police department. This would effectively replace the city utility funds which can no longer be allocated to the police department due to a finding in the most recent state audit of the city.
At the end of the short special meeting, Councilman Jeff Elliott announced that a Budget and Finance Committee meeting is set for Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers.