Murray City Council approves payroll tax

Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer

 

The Murray City Council passed the ordinance implementing a one-percent payroll tax Thursday in a 6-4 vote.

Council members Pat Scott and Burton Young were absent from the Aug. 24 city council meeting,

Before the reading of and vote on ordinance 2017-1743, a number of council members spoke.

Councilman John Mark Roberts, in opposition of the tax, spoke about how he has personally been affected by the tax discussion.

“Ever since this vote has been on the agenda, I’ve personally felt bullied and looked down on by members of the council because I voted no,” Roberts said.

Following the vote, Roberts said he voted the way he felt he needed because his mind never changed.

“I hope Murray can heal,” Roberts said. “I hurt for the community.”

Councilmember Danny Hudspeth, in opposition of the tax, expressed disappointment.

“We as a council did not get a chance to debate or discuss this among ourselves,” Hudspeth said. “I think we could have done better.

After the vote, council member Robert Billington, who voted yes, said no one wins in this instance.

“Nobody wants a payroll tax, but when our property taxes are the highest in the state for a city our size, our insurance taxes are the highest in the state for a city our size, you have to address revenue,” Billington said.

Murray residents Jennifer Lynn and Orville Herndon also expressed opposition.

Lynn started attending city council meetings last November when the payroll tax discussion started.

“I wanted a voice and I wanted to say ‘vote no,’” Lynn said.

Lynn presented a PowerPoint persuading members of the council to vote no. She used statistics to explain how individuals working low-wage jobs will be affected.

Lynn used an individual earning poverty level income, $12,060 per year, as her example. She came up with average monthly bills and explained without the tax, this individual would be short $3,000. With the payroll tax in addition, this individual would lose $2.33 more each week.

Lynn said she has asked members of the council about raising the price of the city sticker. She said she would be willing to pay $100 instead of $50.

Councilman Jeremy Bell, in opposition of the tax, spoke about what will happen next. He said most people he has talked to are against the tax and will be speaking up when the budget comes out next year.

“The people, in this case, are going to demand accountability when it comes to this much money coming in,” Bell said.

In addition to passing the tax, the council voted 7-3 to repeal the city sticker. This ordinance will go into effect June 1, 2018. People residing in Murray will be required to have a city sticker and the city will continue to administer $150 fines until that date.