Early voting in the City of Malakoff’s tax rollback election ends Tuesday with City Hall open until 7 p.m. to accommodate late voters.

Election day is Saturday, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In September, the Malakoff City Council adopted a 35-cent per $100 valuation tax rate for 2008, up from .234806 cents the previous year. The rollback rate is .221069 cents, which is lower than last year’s adopted rate due to an increase in appraised property values.

According to information from State Comptroller Susan Combs’ office, when a city adopts a tax rate higher than the rollback rate, voters can circulate a petition calling for an election to rollback the adopted tax rate. The taxing unit’s governing body determines if the petition is valid and, if so, calls for an election.

In this case, that petition — spearheaded by Phil Tucker and David Thompson and containing 193 signatures — was submitted to the city. The petition states the tax increase is too steep for property owners to absorb in one year.

Mayor Pat Isaacson said the new rate was necessary to cover the $1.183 million in expenses budgeted for 2008. Isaacson said that’s $150,000 less than the city needs.

“The budget has been cut to the bare bone,” Isaacson said. “If the rollback tax passes, the city’s rate will drop to 22 cents. We cannot work with that rate. It will mean a major change in city services.”

The pre-election debate heated up last week when Tucker and Thompson sent a letter to eligible voters criticizing the city for failure to negotiate lower electrical rates. The letter urged citizens to vote against the tax increase.

“The city doesn’t have the luxury of changing electrical companies like a citizen does,” Isaacson said. “In most cases you are required to honor a contract for two to five years.”

The city will hold a town hall meeting concerning the roll-back election following the regular council agenda Monday. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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