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Abilene officials hear concerns about charging new fee to fix roads

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Forty Abilenians gave City Manager Robert Hanna pushback Thursday during the first of a series of public meetings set to discuss a proposal to permit a fee to be charged to help the city pay to fix its dilapidated roads.

Under the proposed Street Maintenance Fee, residential and commercial utility holders would be charged.

While residents would see an increase of $9 on their water bill each month, businesses would pay a fee determined by a tier structure based on square-footage.

Some owners of small businesses said they feared they would be "taxed to non-existence."

"We have a coffee shop, so we have a small profit margin already," said Kym Martin, owner of a Mad Coffee shop. "You add in doubling the water bill and adding already $4,000 a year in taxes. You are running small business out."

(A presentation of the city's simple five-tier plan is available on the city's website at http://abilenetx.com/home/showdocument?id=7652)

Through residential fees the city could potentially generate $3.9 million annually. With approximately 2,400 commercial properties in the city another $4 million could be generated a year.

In addition to fees, there's a local sales tax option - reducing 1/8 of a penny currently allocated for 4A and dedicating it for street maintenance. Under a Type 4A municipal economic development corporation, the Development Corporation of Abilene garners revenues from a half-cent sales tax.

"What we're proposing in this proposal is an eighth of a penny to come off the 4A tax and that would raise about $2.5 million, roughly, and used on street maintenance and it has to be renewed by the voters every four years," Hanna said.

Commercial Prosperities in Tier 1: one include: Small Churches, Small Offices, Senior living facilities, Non-Profits

Commercial Prosperities in Tier 2: Medium Churches, Medium Offices, Hospitals, Medical Offices, Medical Clinics/ Vet Clinics, Day Cares, Recreation/Entertainment Facilities, Laundry.

Commercial Prosperities in Tier 3: Large Churches, Large Offices, Menu Restaurants, Bars, Banks, Pharmacies, General Retail, Gym/Fitness Centers, Hotel/Motels, Auto Sales/Service

Commercial Prosperities in Tier 4: Largest Churches, Warehousing, Self -Storage, Manufacturing, Industrial, Carwashes

Commercial Prosperities in Tier 5: Fast Food, Home Improvement, Discount Superstore/Supermarket, Gas Stations.

Tier 1 - $35

Tier 2 - $ $60

Tier 3 - $115

Tier 4 - $220

Tier 5 - $325

For example, a commercial tier 5 business would have to pay a rate of $325. Providing the city with a monthly revenue of $58,175 monthly and $698,100 annually.

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