Rainsville business owner addresses council

Business owner Rodney Williams told the Rainsville City Council that the rental property and lease tax is too expensive.

During Monday night’s work session, the Rainsville City Council heard from Rodney Williams, Rainsville business owner, regarding the Ordinance 531120 that pertains to a rental property and lease fee.

Williams, owner of several rental properties, asked the council to consider abolishing the rental property and lease tax in the amount of $25 per rental unit.

“I am sitting here trying to provide affordable housing,” he said.

Williams said [businesses] can’t afford it, and neither can the people that are renting from them.

“They can’t afford to pay that extra money, I know a lot of the councilmen have mentioned before that it’s not a lot of extra money, but it is when you’re on a fixed income,” he said.

On Oct. 15, 2007, the City of Rainsville adopted Ordinance 10-15-07, section 22, license classification code 531110, which established a fee of $50 per rental unit for houses, apartments, duplexes, mobile homes and buildings.

Councilman Marshall Stiefel proposed to abolish Ordinance 531120 of the rental property and lease Dec. of 2019, but the motion died.

During that meeting, Councilmen Rickey Byrum and Derek Rosson reminded the council the fee was already cut in half.

On Aug. 5, 2019, the 10-15-07 ordinance was voted to be amended in an effort to provide relief to those who own such property and to induce compliance with the city ordinance.

According to the amended ordinance, the Rainsville Mayor Roger Lingerfelt and the city council determined charging a fee of $50 was too expensive, and it was causing people not to come forward and buy the proper license to cover the property they own.

As a result, the Ordinance License Code 531110, Lessors of Residential Buildings and Dwellings was reduced to $25 per rental unit effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Lingerfelt addressed Stiefel, stating the newly amended ordinance states, the “fee may be re-evaluated and changes after it has been in effect for two years.”

Stiefel argued that nowhere in the ordinance does it say it can’t be abolished.

“It says it can’t be reevaluated, but it doesn’t say it can’t be abolished,” he said.

Councilman Rosson said the matter is “kind of a touchy subject,” advising Stiefel to look into it further because of section 36-25-5(a).

According to the Code of Alabama, section 36-25-5(a) states, no public official or public employee shall use or cause to be used his or her official position or office to obtain personal gain for himself or herself, or family member of the public employee or family member of the public official, or any business with which the person is associated unless the use and gain are otherwise specifically authorized by law.

In return, Stiefel said, “my immediate family pays the ordinance, so you can go in there and check it.”

Rosson said if Stiefel wanted the abolishment of this or any ordinance, there is “a fine line there.”

Lingerfelt said the ordinance as it reads since its motion in Aug. of 2019 they can’t change it, it has to stay in place for two years.

The motion to abolish Ordinance 10-15-07 Code 531110 died for lack of a second during Monday night’s council meeting.

The council also heard updates from the following departments:

  • Fire Chief Willimac Wright thanked everybody that came out the search and rescue trailer. He said 84 people from three different counties went through it and they are scheduled to have a mobile drill tower that’s four stories tall the week before Made in Library Director Sarah Cruze updated the council on the leaking roof at the Rainsville Public Library. She said the insurance adjuster is “pretty positive” the insurance would okay getting a new roof and they are currently waiting on bids.
  • Councilman Brandon Freeman announced softball and baseball tee ball sign-ups would begin Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Field of Dreams Sports Complex.
  • Eric Samples, chairman of the Public Building Authority announced the PBR Bull Bash is this Friday and Saturday at the Northeast Alabama Agri-Business Center.

The council also:

  • accepted the minutes from the previous meeting on Dec. 16, 2019.
  • appointed Jeff McCurdy as Public Defender starting on Jan. 14, 2020.
  • approved to empower the major to sign the fireworks contract for the Freedom Fest.
  • approved to empower the major to place into effect the Alabama’s First Responder Benefit Program for the City of Rainsville.
  • approved to place bid out for Skaggs Road drainage structure repair work. Bids are due Jan. 22, 2020.
  • accepted Joseph Lee’s $50,000 bid for the two-part expansion of the city sewer line from AL Hwy 35 to the corner of Scott Ave S, and Garett Street and part B from Garett to Everett.
  • approved to pay monthly bills.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2020 with a workshop at 4:15 p.m. and regular session at 5 p.m.

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