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Council eyes sales tax boost

By Staff
Tax would raise $4.7 million
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Last year, a push to legalize alcohol sales in Hartselle was buried in an avalanche of
"no" votes.
More recently, a move to raise property taxes by 10 mills died on the vine.
Now, the Hartselle City Council is considering life support in the form of a 1-cent sales tax increase.
In a 4-2 vote, the council has authorized City Attorney Larry Madison to draft an ordinance for a 1-cent sales tax increase.
The ordinance will be considered in two weeks at the council's next meeting, set for July 8 at 7 p.m. The council is also planning a public hearing on the proposed increase. That date has not been set.
Councilman Tom Chappell, who introduced the resolution, said the 1-cent sales tax increase may be the only way for the financially strapped city to achieve its goals.
"The one this we can do is pass a sales tax increase," Chappell said. "Is it a popular thing to do? No. Can we still run the city without it? Yes. For how long? I don't know."
Chappell said he hopes the extra revenue generated by a sales tax increase would help finance a bond issue that could cover the costs of the city's proposed $29 million capital improvement plan. The CIP plan includes a new firestation and fire truck, road projects and school repairs.
"These are things that have been neglected for years because we haven't had enough money to do them," Chappell said.
Hartselle currently has an 8 cent sales tax. A 1-cent increase would raise an additional $1.4 million per year.
The council wasn't unanimous in its support, however. Mayor Clif Knight, who, along with Councilmember Frank Jones casts the only no votes, said the council's timing is bad. Knight said a 1-cent sales tax would be on top of Gov. Bob Riley's sweeping tax increase package. Alabama voters will have their say Sept. 9 on Riley's plan.
"A lot of people are going to be hit hard by that," Knight said.