The Madison City Commission gave its approval on Monday to a new special maintenance fee intended to help maintain the city's streets and received a warning that the resolution's passage would have it put to a voters' referendum.
The proposal would have the city annually assessing $1 per front foot of property facing city roadways with the revenue spent on the maintenance and repair street surfaces within Madison's city limits. Current estimates indicate that the city will take in about $386,000 per year for the special maintenance fee.
George Lee of Madison initially spoke to the city commissioners about whether nonprofit organizations, churches and schools would need to pay the special fee. He was told that those entities would not pay.
"If you're not subject to the property tax, you're not subject to the fee," David Jencks, Madison's city attorney, said.
Lee asked the commissioners if they could find the money elsewhere in the city budget for street maintenance. The commissioners expressed doubts that budget transfers would provide all of the money needed for street projects. Mayor Roy Lindsay said that the city couldn't increase its property tax levy because that revenue source was limited by state law.
In addition, delaying the street maintenance projects would lead to even more roadway deterioration and create a larger bill for taxpayers to pay.
"We're trying to maintain everything instead of letting things fall apart," Lindsay said.
Lee told the commissioners that if they approved the special maintenance fee, some Madison residents would petition for an election to see if the voters would overturn the commissio9ners' decision.
"If you pass this, it will come to a referendum," Lee said.