Rexburg City Council welcomed several high school students to their meeting at City Hall on Nov. 2. Many government teachers in Madison County require students to attend a public meeting, which gave the mayor and City Council an opportunity to educate students on the importance of local government.
Mayor Jerry Merrill shared the importance of taxes in helping the city function as well as the importance of understanding where taxes go and what they are used for.
“We have to have money to fix the roads, and we have to have money to operate the golf course or the parks,” Merrill said. “Taxes aren’t just something you pay that goes into a black hole.”
The money given to the city goes back to benefit those living in Rexburg.
“We always want to be as frugal as we can and use our tax money as wisely as we can because that’s your money that we’re using, but we’re using it to benefit you and fix things and operate the things that you want,” Merrill said.
Increased city fees
Matt Nielsen, Rexburg’s chief financial officer, proposed several increased city fees such as higher prices for entering Rexburg Rapids, hosting events at Teton Lakes Golf Course and building houses in Rexburg.
These increased fees won’t result in profit for the city.
“By federal law, we cannot charge more than we are spending,” said Tisha Flora, a council member. “That’s a law. We’re not throwing out fees so we can earn money. We’re trying to break even.”
The City Council set a public hearing for Dec. 7 so Rexburg residents could come before the City Council and express their opinions and feelings surrounding the increased fees.
More information on the upcoming public hearing, including what will be discussed, will be released on the city’s website within the next couple of weeks.
Christmas on Center Street
The city approved the purchase of a 16-foot, artificial Christmas tree to display on Center Street during the upcoming holiday season.
Rexburg’s new tree requires less set-up time and more customizable options for decoration with lights being controlled digitally. In years past, residents would donate trees, and the Parks and Recreation Department would complete the tedious job of decorating them by hand.
“Our parks director is kind of begging us to do this,” Merrill said. “It takes them a long time. Even though the trees that we’ve gotten have been donated, it takes them a long time to get it set up and put all the lights on it.”
Upfront costs will cost the city about $19,000. However, despite this large upfront cost for the city, Nielsen and Merrill hope the new tree will last 15 to 20 years.
“Small Business Saturday”
The mayor announced that the Saturday after Thanksgiving would be known as “Small Business Saturday,” which encourages Rexburg residents to visit and support local businesses.
“We encourage our citizens to support our local businesses because they really are the backbone of our economy here,” Merrill said.
This holiday is not unique to Rexburg.
According to the Small Business Association, Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 and officially cosponsored by the Small Business Association since 2011.
There are many ways Rexburgians can participate in Small Business Saturday. Locals and students alike can buy clothes from local thrift stores or order takeout from a variety of locally-owned restaurants.
Learn more about Small Business Saturday in Rexburg from this BYU-Radio interview with the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce.