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Ludlow's Tax Rate Debated as Council Considers Two Options

Ludlow city council had a discussion over whether or not to raise taxes Thursday evening as the city did a first reading of an ordinance laying out the fiscal plan.

Councilman Steve Chapman Sr. said that Ludlow's property taxes are already too high, while Scott Smith, who serves as police chief and interim city administrator, said that property taxes are Ludlow's only source of revenue.

Councilwomen Tiffany Grider and Julia Terry-Navarre said that they didn't feel right raising taxes by the manager's proposed compensation rate plus 4 percent because of the pandemic that is affecting the country.

"I know this doesn't seem like much money to some of us, but to single mothers and low-income residents - it is," Grider said. "It's just not a good time."

"I understand everyone is struggling, but this is the only revenue the city brings in," Smith said. "We're going to see some cities in very different situations next year based on what they do with their tax rates now."

Smith went on to explain that if the ordinance simply raised taxes by the compensating rate of 49 cents per 100 dollars then the city would break even. An additional raise in taxes would allow the city to plan for unexpected expenditures, and more easily subsidize services like the fire department - which hasn't seen a raise in its funding for 18
years, he said.

Todd McMurtry, the city's attorney, recalled his experience serving with Fort Wright and suggested doing a multiple first-readings of the ordinance with different proposed raises so that council could research and be prepared to vote after a second reading on what they felt was best.

Council agreed to read the ordinance twice: once with simply the compensating rate, and again with the compensating rate plus a two-percent increase in property taxes.
They are expected to vote on one of the options after a second reading next meeting.

Before adjourning, council also did a first-reading of an ordinance to allow open-containers along some parts of Elm Street. No discussion was held after the ordinance was read and they are expected to vote on it after a second-reading next meeting.

Written by Connor Wall, associate editor

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