Thursday, June 08, 2023

Kellogg leaders pleased with LOT decision

Local Editor | May 19, 2023 1:00 AM

KELLOGG –– With the recent passing of their new local option, non-property tax (LOT), city officials in Kellogg are now planning for the future.

After several years under the previously approved LOT, the city found itself unable to pay for the services that the original tax was established to cover.

For the past seven years, Kellogg has imposed a 3.5% (LOT) – commonly referred to as a ‘resort tax,’ this fee is imposed on any lodging inside the city limits of Kellogg that is for 30 days or less.

The recent vote increased that amount to 5.5%.

The primary use of Kellogg’s LOT is the maintenance and upkeep of its street system.

Now, along with the street maintenance – any money generated above what is needed to maintain and upgrade the roads will be used for city parks and the maintenance of public rights-of-way (sidewalks).

“Kellogg’s streets are unique in that they serve as a human health barrier from contaminated soils,” city of Kellogg community planner Monica Miller said. “The current rate of 3.5% would still be in effect had the ordinance not passed, but the 2% increase was necessary to account for the long-term, rising costs associated with street maintenance.”

Years ago, the city made a pact with the Environmental Protection Agency – on where if the EPA would pay for the city to completely replace its roads – the city would keep those roads well maintained.

After years of historic mine pollution, including the use of harmful mine tailings filled with heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and cadmium to build up their roads.

Because of this, the EPA requires a barrier to be kept in place, keeping the contaminants away from human exposure.

The ballot measure was decided this past Tuesday, garnering more than 80% support from the city’s residents – however, there still seems to be some unsure feelings about the LOT and its purpose despite efforts from the city’s leadership.

“City staff worked diligently in the weeks leading up to the election to convey a clear message that the increase in local option tax would have no effect on property or sales tax in Kellogg,” Miller said. “Residents were provided with resources and direct access to details like what revenue generated from the tax could be used for, allowing them to conduct their own research and make informed decisions based on facts.”

When the city replace all of its roads between 2015 and 2018, the plan was to put the city streets on a five-year chip seal cycle in order to keep them maintained and lessen the blow to the asphalt layer.

They were able to get a section of road re-sealing done pre-pandemic, but then in the years following, the costs of the materials needed to maintain that cycle increased to a point where trying to maintain that five-year cycle with the revenues from a 3.5% LOT wasn’t feasible.

Now, they can confidently get back on track, knowing that, based on historic averages, the funding will be in place for them to move forward with their road maintenance plan.

According to Kellogg Public Works director Mike Fitzgerald, the plan is to begin chip or slurry sealing the roads that were supposed to be resealed in 2021, in the late summer, and continue work into the fall months until the weather stops them.

Chip sealing can only be done when the air temperature is 70º or higher, while a slurry seal may be applied when both the pavement and air temperatures are 45º or higher.

“The city is pleased with the passing of the ordinance,” Miller said. “Local option tax is a significant source of revenue and has a substantial impact on the budget.”

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