A “Gas-ly" Oversight

A utilities sales oversight has cost one local town millions.

Residents may have to start paying the price. The city of Perry manager Bob Brown has realized a utility tax ordinance passed by the city council in 1983 was never implemented.

Doug Everett of Perry City Council, District 5, said, "It was actually discovered as something that had been overlooked for years by our former city manager and was discovered by our new city manager that we were not in compliance with the state statute. That's the reason it was brought back to the table to make sure we comply with all state statutes and state rules."

Brown says the oversight caused about $200,000 to $250,000 annually in loss revenue. The 23-year-old ordinance authorized a 10 percent tax on the first $100 of sales on natural gas, propane, water, telephone and electricity.

The tax had been collected on water, but not gas.

When the tax collection kicks in, customers whose natural gas bills are at least $100 will see a minimum $10 monthly increase, good for the city's budget, but customers say not so good for theirs.

Judi Burant, a Perry resident, said, "Obviously not good. Ten percent is a lot to add to the utility bill, but we'll do, we'll manage. I guess we'll just not water quite as much and try to be conservative in the winter with the gas."

The tax will not be implemented until after July.