Orion step closer to telecom tax

by Mindy Carls correspondent

If the Village of Orion adopts a telecommunications tax, the rate will be 4 percent, the village board decided on Monday, Jan. 4.

Voting in favor of 4 percent were trustees Mike Dunlap, Ryan Hancock, Bob Mitton and Steve Newman.

Mel Drucker voted against 4 percent. Neal Nelson abstained because he did not have either a landline or a cell phone billed to his address.

Village Attorney John Ames will draft an ordinance with the 4 percent rate, and the board will vote on Monday, Jan. 18, whether to approve the tax, Village President Jim Cooper said.

If it passes, the tax will be collected on bills sent to addresses within the village, Cooper said.

Before the meeting began on Monday night, Cooper noted other communities have the tax. Newman said the Henry County Republic has stories about towns carrying out projects while Orion struggles to finance its Seventh Street project.

When the telecom tax came up during the meeting, Cooper noted Coal Valley collects $5,475 a month from a 6 percent tax, Galva $2,875 from 5 percent, Cambridge $3,300 from 6 percent and Geneseo $8,169 from 5 percent.

Cooper said 6 percent is the maximum communities are allowed to charge. The retailer administering the tax keeps 1 percent.

He said he views the telecom tax as an additional source of revenue for the village. By starting with less than the maximum rate, the village could increase it gradually.

If the village does adopt the tax at the Jan. 18 meeting, it would be summer before the first money flows into village coffers, Cooper said.

Drucker said the telecom tax would have more of an impact on senior citizens and businesses, who are more likely to have both landlines and cell phones.

Cooper responded that younger residents are more likely to have several cell phones.

The village has 800 businesses and residents receiving water bills, Village Clerk Lori Sampson said.

If the average tax is $2.50 a month per customer, the revenue would be $2,000 before the retail receives a share.