Wright City

Wright City Board continues utility tax

By Jack Underwood, Staff Writer
Posted 6/1/24

The Wright City Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance continuing the application of the city sales tax to domestic utilities.

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Wright City

Wright City Board continues utility tax


The Wright City Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance continuing the application of the city sales tax to domestic utilities. The measure had been tabled at the previous meeting as some board members had reservations. 

The measure assessed the 1% sales tax increase that voters approved last year onto domestic utility payments. Customers had already paid a sales tax on their utility payments. According to Mayor Michelle Heiliger, the passage of the ordinance was a requirement from the Missouri Department of Revenue to continue assessing the tax.

Originally, board members were skeptical of the ordinance and expressed concerns that they may have been misleading their voters when campaigning for the sales tax since they were unaware it would be assessed on domestic utilities. 

Heiliger stressed that voters had already been paying the tax, the ordinance was just to remain in line with requirements from the Department of Revenue. 

The measure was especially important as the funds from utilities will be used in the city’s bonding process following the bond issue that passed during the April 2 election. If the city lost that revenue it would significantly impact the terms it would receive on its bond. 

“We’ve got a whole bonding committee that’s waiting on us to make a decision,” Heiliger said. 

Alderman Don Andrews still felt that the utility tax was not what he explained to his constituents when campaigning for the sales tax. He said that was for the sales tax because the additional revenue it brought in was from anyone who spent their money in Wright City instead of falling specifically on those who live there. 

“Never once did I approach a resident and give them the thought that they would have to be paying an additional tax on their utility bill,” Andrews said. 

Alderman Karey Owens was originally against the measure and was one of the board members who voted to table it at the previous meeting. During the May 23 meeting she said she had a change of heart. 

“This is a sales tax that, as Mayor Heiliger pointed out last time, citizens have already been paying, and there was the vote last year to increase the one percent,” Owens said. “What we’re looking at now is we forgot to dot an I and cross a T.”

Later in the discussion, Owens also said that she had crunched the numbers on her own household’s utility bill. She felt that she was an average, if not above average, customer, and on her bill the additional tax amounted to roughly $3 more a month. 

The board moved for a vote and landed in a tie, Aldermen Owens and Kim Arbuthnot voted for the measure while Andrews and Ramiz Hakim voted against it. 

Hakim said that he was neither for nor against the measure although since he was not present at the previous meeting he had not taken the time to discuss the issue with his constituents, and as such did not feel comfortable approving it. 

This left the vote in a tie. In these situations the mayor casts a vote to break the tie. Heiliger sided with Owens and Arbuthnot and the ordinance passed. 

The city’s next steps will be moving forward with the bonding process so that they can begin construction on the improvements to Roelker Road and, ideally, complete them before the opening of the new Wright City High School. 

Wright City, Utility Tax