The Murray City Council hosted an overflow crowd Thursday night at its specially-called work meeting centered on the possibility of instituting a new occupational tax for city workers.
Murray Mayor Jack Rose has said any changes to the city’s tax code should be revenue neutral and that he wants to lower the city’s insurance and property taxes as well as abolish the automobile sticker requirement.
After a presentation from Murray director of finance Luke Crawford, the council ultimately decided to have a simple up-down vote next Tuesday, November 22, before they begin to talk about any specific numbers.
Meanwhile, more than 2,000 people have signed a Change.org petition aimed at stopping the payroll tax. That petition was created by former councilman Greg Taylor, who was present at Thursday's meeting. Taylor handed out an analysis of the payroll tax to around 70 total attendees.
Rose called some of the negative feedback in the community “frustrating”.
“People, and particularly who live outside the city and work here, seem to not understand the benefits they do get with fire protection, police protection, the streets and the fact that the city has worked hard to bring jobs here," Rose said.
Councilman Burton Young asked Rose during the meeting, "What's the rush?" with regard to pushing a vote through. Rose said that, whatever the outcome, he doesn't want to stall on a vote and would like to give businesses plenty of time before a payroll tax would take effect next fiscal year.
"They're [the council] just going to have to decide whether they believe it should be done, and if they believe it should be done, whether they have the intestinal fortitude to do it," Rose said after the meeting. "I think two years from now, if they do it, they'll be real pleased with it. The community, I know will be, a bunch of them, because they're concerned that they're paying all the taxes."
Council members Jeremy Bell, Linda Cherry and Pat Scott have signed a pledge circulated by the Murray/Calloway County Republican Party stating that they would vote against an occupational tax. Councilman Dan Miller expressed reluctance at Thursday's meeting to vote for something that appears to be so unpopular. Miller said he's received only negative feedback from the community.
The council will also vote Tuesday on the second reading of an amendment that would allow Sunday alcohol sales. The first reading passed with a 7-5 margin.