Perryville discusses city salaries, delinquent property taxes

Published 2:48 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

The Perryville City Council discussed the salary budget for city employees at their meeting on April 7. Some council members were not confident that Perryville has the money to give raises this year.

Council member Michael Lankford said he believes the city needs to cut costs in order to stay afloat, and that he doesn’t see room in the budget as it is right now for raises. He said he would not support anything that’s not a 5% cut across the board.

“I will not support an increase in taxes on our citizens,” Lankford said. “I wish people could get raises, but where’s it going to come from?”

Mayor Carlos Miller said they should find some way to better compensate employees because, “you risk everyone in the city just walking out and then we don’t have anyone here, period,” he said.

Lankford brought up different doable ways that the city can cut costs, and he said he thinks the city would be able to find the money for raises by saving money elsewhere.

A motion to leave employee’s salaries as they are was voted down. Council members then voted to table the matter, hoping to have more time to find room in the budget for raises.

The council passed a motion that upcoming councilmen be compensated $1 per year for their service, and the incoming mayor receive $200 per year. State law requires that elected officials be compensated some amount of money. But Miller said he would donate the money back to the city.

Lankford also brought up the issue of delinquent property taxes. After talking with other officials, Lankford said the way Perryville collects delinquent taxes is ineffective. The city currently has uncollected property taxes totalling $7,069.

“You cannot ask anybody here to pay their taxes and allow some not to do it,” Lankford said.

He said Perryville could have the sheriff collect taxes, or use an option to take over properties that have not been paying taxes. At a certain point, properties that do not pay taxes can end up in eminent domain. The government can take that private land for public purposes if they provide fair compensation to the property owner, which can be in the form of relieving their tax debt.

The council discussed how to best go about collecting unpaid taxes. The city later posted everyone’s delinquent property tax amounts on their Facebook page.

In other business, the council:

• Heard an announcement about the grand opening of LCW Cabinets and Countertops. They will be hosting a ribbon cutting on May 5 from 4 to 7 p.m. The council passed a motion to close the street directly in front of LCW from 2 to 9 p.m. on May 5.

• Discussed changing the policies for business licenses.

• The city is changing its phones and internet from AT&T to Spectrum; the cost is about the same, at around $29 per phone. The phone numbers won’t change.

• Discussed the need for improvements to the firehouse.