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Local News

Francis OKs Tax Increase For Roads

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The Francis Town Council voted 4-1 to pass a tax increase at its August 26th meeting.

Mayor Byron Ames says the increase is needed to help the city stay on top of road maintenance.    

The tax hike was approved by Mayor Ames and council members Trilby Cox, Matt Crittenden and Shana Fryer.   Council member Jeremie Forman voted no.

The city’s public notice said Francis will be able to increase its property tax revenue by nearly 31 percent above last year, excluding additional revenue from new growth.

The annual tax on a $400,000 residence would increase from about $307 to $401.     Mayor Ames told KPCW that amounts to less than $8 a month.  

On a business valued at $400,000, the increase would be about $171 a year.

Mayor Ames said to maintain and repair the city’s ten miles of road, the city has sought grants, which are not reliable sources of income.

With the tax increase, the Mayor said the town hopes to get ahead of just “band aid” maintenance.      

“The roads only have so much of a life span anyway.   And we seem to be more able to find some funding to help us push out the timeline on replacing roads by maybe 5, maybe 10 years, by doing various resurfacing of, adding chip seal or different slurry seals or cape seal on top, or all of the above of the existing surface.  That only pushes it out, like I said, 5 or 10 years, but it doesn’t actually fix the road.  We’re not having the funds, when it comes around time, that we can’t just keep adding a band-aid on top for 5 or 10 years.    We actually have to do a deeper resurfacing of the road surface.  That’s the funding that seems to be lacking.”

Ames said that the added revenue from the tax hike comes to some $73,000 annually.

During a public hearing on the tax increase, several residents said that developers bringing houses and traffic to Francis should pay more for the roads.   

Jamie Larsen said she agreed with that sentiment.     

“It seems like they’ve been having the easy way out.  We haven’t been charging those developers, apparently, the fees that we should.  I don’t know dollar for dollar what that is, but obviously it’s been fairly easy to come in here and develop.   We’re growing exponentially.”

The mayor said the city does look for business to pay its way.    He said developers are charged road impact fees, and for new subdivisions, they have to fund construction of roads that meet city standards.

But for development inside the city limits, Ames said Francis officials are limited in the leverage they have.      

“We’re talking about property rights.    There’s only so much we can do as a city to tell somebody who’s developing a piece of property what they can and can’t do, or what we want them to do or hope they will do with that land.”

He said developments that want to annex to the city could pay more.    

“And we are putting all kinds of pressure on those developers to take on an additional burden.   In addition to paying the road impact fees, in addition to paying annexation fees, we’re also working with them to cover other infrastructure needs that the city has, whether it be roads or water or something else the city needs, parks, trails.    We put a lot of pressure on them for trails and things like that.”

Francis Mayor Byron Ames.    He said the tax increase took effect for Francis’s fiscal year, which started on July 1st.

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