COLUMBUS – The city council discussed potentially raising the telephone occupation tax from 3 percent, to match the cable occupation tax at 5 percent.
The issue was brought before the board, because of a current technology merger being seen in the cable and telephone industries. The issue being discussed, was that telephone companies can offer cable at a cheaper tax percentage, because they are identified as a telephone company, while cable companies have to offer telephone and cable services at a 5 percent tax rate.
Another difficulty being discussed during the meeting, is that because of the technology merging into both companies, it has become difficult to identify who is a cable company that should be charged at 5 percent, and who is a telephone company that should be charged at 3 percent.
Mayor Jim Bulkley, as well as Councilmen Rich Jablonski, John Lohr, and Troy Hiemer, noted that they did not think the tax should be raised just to make things easier, and without any specifics on what the funds would be used for.
Councilman Prent Roth noted that he thought the companies should be charge at the same percentage, to be fair.
The council members approved to adopt an ordinance, that would allow city staff to look into the potential for increasing the tax further. No tax hike was approved, and council members shared that they will be discussing the issue in more depth before any decision is made.
The ordinance passed, with Troy Hiemer voting against, and all others voting in favor. Charlie Bahr was absent from the meeting.
It was noted by city officials, that cities of similar size, had both percentages at 5 percent or above, with Kearney at 6.25 percent.