Vernon City Commissioners Approve Tax Rate Hike and Several Other Agenda Items

- Vernon residents will see some big changes in the coming months as commissioners adopt a stricter budget they say to keep the city afloat.

Vernon City Commissioners voted on several items Tuesday night. They unanimously adopted the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which totaled about $15-million. Commissioners also approved a 6.4% property tax rate hike. Vernon's city manager says the increase will take effect in January and raise an additional $80,000 each year for the city. And a 15% amended water and sewer rate increase was approved that is expected to bring about $835,000 more a year.

Those three items were expected to generate some fiery comments during the meeting. They did not. However, the agenda item concerning the Chamber of Commerce did.

The city needs to replenish its reserves, and city leaders looked at terminating its tourism contract with the Chamber. That line item drew seven comments from the crowd, with six of those comment coming from chamber officials.

"Rather than terminating this contract, consider visiting with us about amending the contract in some way that it might be beneficial to both of us-- mutually beneficial, instead of cutting the Chamber's funding off completely and crippling our organization until we can find another way to build up to the momentum that we have now," says Carrie Hawkins, executive director of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

Commissioners unanimously voted to terminate the tourism contract with the Chamber of Commerce. However, on a more positive note, they did discuss putting the chamber on the agenda in the future to address ways to provide some type of financial help for the organization.

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