It’s time to talk about a difficult subject: raising taxes. 

On Tuesday, the city of Fort Payne opened up the door to discussion about raising its sales tax by 1 cent. 

Councilman Wade Hill said he and the current council — a new council consisting of three first-time council members, two incumbents and an incumbent mayor — had been discussing the possibility of raising taxes for the past nine months. 

Hill said Fort Payne has not seen its sales tax percentage increase since 1984. Meanwhile, during that time, the county raised the taxes for its residents at 9 percent. This is also the case for neighboring cities, such as Rainsville and Scottsboro, Hill said.

So, Hill was only proposing that taxes be raised to put Fort Payne on an even playing field. 

Your tax dollars help fill a need in this city. The city of Fort Payne’s revenue has remained steady over the past seven years, but it’s also seen its expenses increase, as well. Something needs to be done in order to reverse this trend. City Treasurer Jessica Moses said in the work session the city “had a few years left before they had to do something drastic.” 

According to Hill’s research, taxing 1 cent extra on sales would generate more than $2.8 million over the course of the year. 

That money can go to help fund projects that the city will be forced to address soon. We have an aging infrastructure. We have a sewer plant in desperate need of updates, a theatre in need of a new marquee and renovations, a sanitation department that will need to expand its footprint, a multi-million dollar ALDOT project on Alabama 35 West, and the city needs to update wiring at the Sports Complex, which is more than 30 years old, renovate the upstairs of the Coal & Iron Building and provide significant renovations and updates to the Police Department. 

These are things that will absolutely have to be addressed in the next five years. But, what about beyond those five years? Well, Hill went on to detail what could be done if the city continues to bring in that extra revenue.

The possibilities are seemingly endless. All these things have the potential to bring in families and tourists, and all of those will spend money in our town. One single penny on the dollar can improve the quality of life for this and future generations, and it’s a decision the Times-Journal supports. 

We often shy away from talks of raising taxes, but when you see what the city can benefit from by just leveling the playing field with other surrounding cities, then the choice seems obvious.

The council will meet on Tuesday, July 18 at 5 p.m. for work session and then 6 p.m. for a meeting in the Council Chambers to discuss an ordinance raising the sales tax by 1 cent. The public is welcome at each of these.


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