Vienna looks to home rule

VIENNA – Vienna’s home rule application, if approved, will give the city the power to impose a one percent sales tax, sell city property without an auction, and determine if a home has zero historical significance before construction, officials said.

Vienna’s completed home rule application contained seven situations for which the city wishes to be given the ability to rule on in a timely manner, officials said.

The home rule application was introduced during the Thursday evening city council meeting for consideration, although no vote was taken, said Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp. The application will require several readings and votes before it is sent to the state for consideration, Rapp said.

The legislation permits municipalities to apply for home rule status. These rules allow the municipality to clarify and increase the powers of municipal self-governance.

The rules must be approved by the state and are meant to be used in alleviating state-based restrictions, which prevent the city from carrying out its duties in a cost effective, efficient and timely manner, the legislation states.

For eyesores and dilapidated structures, Vienna has requested to be given the power, after due notice to property owners, to enter a property which is not being maintained in order to maintain, repair or demolish that property, Rapp said.

This will give the city the power to mow unkept grass or brush to prevent the property from affecting the value of the property around it, Rapp said.

For building and zoning administrations enforcement provisions, the city has requested the power to issue on-the-spot citations for reoccurring exterior sanitation issues, which include the presence of rubbish, overgrown grass, weeds, junked vehicles, poorly maintained vacant structures, broken windows, and poorly maintained sidewalks and driveways, Rapp said.

Under the disposition of city property, Vienna has requested the power to lease or convey, without auction and for less than the market value, city property to nonprofit organizations with a section 501(c)3 status, Rapp said.

These will be limited to nonprofits which are providing a service to the public and will contain language specifying that the property must be returned to the city should nonprofit status be lost, Rapp said.

This same request would permit Vienna to convey real property with a value of more than $1,000 without following current auction procedures, Rapp said. This would allow closed bidding to be used as a way of selling property the city no longer needs, such as old police cruisers, Rapp said.

With expedition of historical significance determination, Vienna has requested the power to judge whether a property clearly does not have any historical significance in order to reduce bottlenecks in the wait for construction within the city, Rapp said.

Properties less than 30 years old, and without any potential historical significance, would be able to bypass the referral to the Historic Preservation Section outlined by state laws, Rapp said.

The city has requested the power to declare that vehicle wreckers within Vienna must carry products to contain gasoline and other spills from wrecks, Rapp said. Wreckers would be required to further clean these spills properly if emergency crews are not summoned to the incident, Rapp said.

The application requests that Vienna be given the power to reduce certain business and occupation taxes for the retail classification of businesses from .50 percent to .40 percent, Rapp said.

Vienna requests the ability to impose a one percent sales tax within city limits, which would be phrased the same as the current state sales tax, Rapp said. Purchases of gasoline, groceries, automobiles and prescription drugs would be exempt from the proposed tax, Rapp said.

Vienna’s application requests that the city be given permission to make joint purchases with other municipalities in order to receive better prices from buying in bulk, Rapp said.

Such cooperative purchases would allow for better bidding and self-governance over the splitting of such purchases between participating municipalities, Rapp said.