Public hearings for Emerson’s proposed millage rate drew anything but a packed house on Monday morning and evening. In fact, a grand total of zero residents bothered stopping by city hall for either the 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. hearings.
Regardless, Emerson City Manager Kevin McBurnett indicated that the municipality’s property tax rate will remain unchanged from last year, staying put at 1.832 mills for 2020.
“There was no debate about increasing it,” McBurnett said. “The rationale was in 2019, 1.832 mills was estimated to bring in $228,274. For 2020, if we had went with the rollback millage rate, we would have only brought in $209,000.”
McBurnett said the City is still awaiting the first full financials of the new fiscal year.
“I don’t feel terrible on it,” he said. “The economy seems to be doing well, there is a lot of development activities going on, so I believe we’re going to be OK in that sense.”
Still, McBurnett said the lingering economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local community have yet to be seen.
“The unemployment benefits, my understanding, is they run out at the end of this month,” he said. “So we need to see what happens there, see how bad that affects our citizens.”
Monday evening’s property tax rate hearing closed after 10 minutes elapsed without any public comments. The Emerson City Council reconvened about 50 minutes later for a special-called meeting.
Members of the council voted unanimously to approve a new City sign ordinance, which — among other things — creates an appeals process for those who have sign requests rejected by local officials.
From there, council members heard the first reading of — but took no action on — a rezoning request for about 7.5 acres of land abutting Franklin Loop off Highway 41.
“Just south of Emerson Baptist, there’s a piece of land there,” McBurnett said. “The applicant, Emerson Baptist, is in the process of selling the land — they are asking for a rezoning from residential to C-2 commercial.”
Two representatives of All South Electrical Constructors, Inc. were in attendance for the meeting. They indicated that they wished to purchase the property from Emerson Baptist Church and relocate their business, currently situated at 150 Kelli Clark Court, to the parcel running alongside Joe Frank Harris Parkway.
While the current building at Kelli Clark Court is about 12,000 square feet, the proposed building off Franklin Loop would be about 20,000 square feet — potentially with two loading docks and additional storage room, depending on setbacks.
Emerson Assistant City Manager Todd Heath noted that the Emerson Planning and Zoning Commission recently voted to recommend approval of the rezoning request.
“It would include a conditional use for a construction contractor’s office,” he added at Monday’s council meeting. “So the approval would be an ordinance rezoning and creating a map with a conditional use for the electrical construction contractor’s office.”
A second reading of the rezoning proposal is scheduled for an Emerson City Council meeting slated for Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. A third and final public millage rate hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. the same day and at the same location — Emerson City Hall, at 700 Highway 293.
Even if that public meeting draws a sparse crowd, McBurnett said he’s happy to go over the minutia of the City’s property tax rate with any concerned residents.
“I have no problem explaining it to anybody that has any questions, so even if they want to call, I’d be more than glad to sit and talk to them so that they can understand had we used the rollback millage rate, we would’ve taken in less money this year coming up,” he said. “We’re just trying to break even again.”