Roth wasn’t the only one to oppose McManus’ suggestion to remove the franchise fee from the budget, but with a 3-2 vote, councilman Trevor Willis and councilman Paul Varner were a part of the minority.
Varner’s concerns stemmed from the option of the referendum and the likelihood of it failing in the community vote. If residents deny the additional fees, the city would be at a crossroads with how to balance future budgets plus a $110,000 loss to the general fund reserves.
“If it gets sent to a referendum and gets voted down, then what?” Varner asked.
Willis also agreed that sending it to a referendum wasn’t in the best interest because if the franchise fee was denied, then the city’s attempt at balancing future budgets will become more and more difficult as state commercial property tax rollbacks are implemented and other expenses continue to rise.
As a strong proponent for the franchise fee since the beginning of the budget discussions, Willis was disappointed to see it fail and warned his fellow councilmen that the decision would hurt the city financially in the long run.
“The issue isn’t this year,” Willis said. “The issue is moving forward and so to delete it now, you’re losing out on that revenue that would potentially help our future.”