Keck Photo

Somerset Mayor Alan Keck

Tax rates, halloween hours and the purchase of a property were part of the business items enacted at Monday’s City Council meeting.

The council approved unanimously to keep property tax rates and bank franchise tax rates the same as they have been for several years.

The property tax rate for the fiscal year of 2020-2021 is to be $0.13 for each $100 of taxable property.

A 2 percent discount will be given if the bill is paid before November 1, 2020, while a penalty of 20 percent (plus an interest of 6 percent) will be added for any bill not paid until after January 1, 2021.

The bank franchise and local deposit tax will hold at 0.025 percent on all deposits.

Any bank franchise bills not paid before June 30, 2021 for the tax year of 2020, or not paid before January 31 for all subsequent tax years will have a 20 percent penalty and a 6 percent interest rate added on.

A 2 percent discount will be given to financial institutions which pay before December 31. Bills are due before January 31, 2021.

The money collected will go into the General Fund account.

Mayor Alan Keck thanked the council for agreeing to keep the property tax rate flat. “It’s not just checking a box and passing another ordinance. It’s a big deal, and I know it’s a big deal for a lot of our folks who are struggling.”

After questions from council members, Keck also went ahead and set the date and time for Halloween Trick or Treating.

Somerset will observe the October ritual from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 31 – a Saturday.

Keck said he felt like it was important to give children something to look forward to.

He also stressed that it was okay for those who don’t want to participate due to health concerns or other reasons to do so without being stigmatized.

“We’ll spread the word that traditional, conventional Halloween will happen,” Keck said. “You don’t see a [porch] light on, you don’t go. But if you want kids to come by, you flip your light on, you have candy outside, maybe you have a sign to take a piece, maybe you hand it to them.”

He asked that people not congregate in large groups and to keep events outside – indoor candy events would be discouraged.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council voted to purchase property at Valley Oak to build a booster station for a new water tank being built in the area.

The city will pay $15,500 for the land, but will be reimbursed through a U.S.D.A grant. The property is around 0.36 acres.

City Attorney John Adams clarified that this project, while in the same area where a new interchange is being built, is not related to that project. The new water tower is meant as an improvement, he said, even though the interchange may be taking the old one.

Council also approved the zoning change of 502 Sagasser Street from a Residential-2 zoned property to a Business-2 property.

In other zoning business, the council heard the first reading of a change in the wording of the zoning ordinance that would clear up a problem with annexing already developed property.

Back in July, the council heard from Somerset resident Monty Gover who raised a concern over the current wording that says all property annexed by the city would be “considered in the R-1 Zone or District unless otherwise changed.”

That would seem to indicate that all properties, whether or not a business currently stands on it, would enter the city as a residential property and would require a multi-step process involving the Planning and Zoning Commission to change it.

The changed wording would allow for “improved properties” with a use other than residential to be zoned according to its current use without an action from Planing and Zoning.

A second reading and vote will take place at a later meeting.

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