The city of Orange passed two resolutions at their regular meeting Tuesday night in an attempt retain sales tax and Hotel Occupancy Tax monies.

The first passed awarded a consultant services agreement to MuniServices, LLC for a sales tax compliance review. 

MuniServices states their business is designed to assist the city with economic forecasting and in preserving and enhancing its sales and use tax revenues by detecting, documenting, and correcting sales tax misallocations thereby producing previously unrealized revenue for the city while giving the city a more accurate sales tax base upon which to forecast its revenue.

The city shall pay MuniServices a 35 percent contingency fee for the past three years. The fee applies to the sales and use tax revenue received by the city from correction of taxpayer reporting errors detected and documented by the sales tax compliance review. MuniServices will invoice city quarterly based on past and/or prospective compliance secured on behalf of the city. Invoices are due and payable upon receipt. Their services would cost the city $3,500 per year. City Manager Shawn Oubre said a similar audit was done six years ago.

The need for the audit arose when city employees could not receive a clear answer by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts office. There were big swings in the sales tax collected numbers that was tied to decisions by the comptroller.

Oubre favors doing the audit one time and waiting a couple of years for doing so again. The audit will go back three years and take a contingency fee.  The contingency fee should be built up enough to pay for itself. Any money collected will go to the General Fund. 

The second resolution approved was for MuniServices for a local occupancy tax audit. Their services are intended to assist the city in maximizing lodging tax revenue it is entitled to through an on-site examination of records and education of the lodging providers to ensure the appropriate collection and remittance of the lodging tax. 

The city will pay a $2,000 one-time start-up fee. The audit services shall be provided for a fixed fee of $1,700 for each lodging property audited with 50 percent due at the time of audit approval and 50 percent upon completion of the audit. A minimum of two audits must be performed at any one time. There will also be an annual fixed fee of $250 per each lodging property. 

If the city permits on-site examination of the records of 10 percent but no less than two of the city’s lodging properties per year to ensure compliance in collecting and returning the local hotel occupancy tax, MuniServices shall discount the administration  to an annual fixed fee of $150 per each lodging property. The total price to the city for the 13 motels to be audited is $7,350. Two audits per year will be performed and an in-depth audit of two motels per year. 

The council approved the final reading abandoning the block of Jackson Street east of Market Street and maintaining a utility and drainage easement.  This portion of Jackson Street is not being used by the general public but is being used as a private drive. An ordinance abandoning the remaining portion of the Water Street right-of-way was tabled. This portion of Water Street has been totally fenced in by the Higman Towing Company and is being used as private property.

Councilman Tommy Ferguson said it would be crazy to give away waterfront property. Councilwoman Theresa Beauchamp suggested the city lease the property. Oubre said the city can study the issue and come back at a future council meeting with other ideas. 

“We’re landlocking ourselves on Water Street if we abandon Jackson Street,” he said.

The council approved the certification of consistency with the consolidated plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This plan is a standard annual action plan for the Public Housing Authority. The Housing Authority of Orange is part of and is participating in the consultation and preparation of the five year consolidated plan. 

Ferguson said the only listing for working families preference at the Sikes Road complex and not at others.

“Something’s not right,” Ferguson said.

Sandra Wilson, said Sikes Road is a special project to not keep poverty in one certain area and for the complex to look like the surrounding neighborhood.

Lastly, Rebecca J. Patterson was appointed to the Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board for a term ending July 22, 2016.Patterson is victim assistance coordinator for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.  She’s a graduate of West Orange-Stark High School and TCU. She’s also president-elect of the Kiwanis Club and events coordinator and a United Way board member.