There are times when wording can get confusing, and it’s important to make certain issues clear, especially when we’re dealing with the issue of taxes.
Now, the Times-Journal still stands by an increase in sales tax to the city of Fort Payne — this is where our office is based. But, DeKalb County is our home. We cover all of DeKalb County, and so it’s important that we make ourselves clear, and we don’t want to further muddy any details that may be confusing.
Municipalities surrounding Fort Payne have about a 9 percent sales tax — it varies from city to city — but the breakdown of where those funds go is where it can get confusing, or where the message may have been lost.
The DeKalb County Commission does not set the tax rate in each of the municipalities. That is decided by the local government — your local elected officials.
So, where do your taxes go? This is for everybody, not just Fort Payne.
Currently, the state of Alabama takes 4 percent of the taxes collected, and 100 percent of those funds goes to the state’s Education Trust Fund — the tax rate in Alabama is actually high relative to that of other states. Meanwhile, municipalities will collect 4 percent — 3 percent currently in Fort Payne — and the DeKalb County Commission essentially collects the remaining 1 percent.
Now, according to representatives from the county, only three-tenths of that 1 percent goes to the county commission’s general fund. The other seven-tenths is designated for the various city and county schools dependent on their student population.
We feel like this is where the confusion might arise.
It’s not uncommon for municipalities to have a larger operating budget than the county itself — the county is also required to maintain the jail and more than 1,700 miles of county roads, many of which are in the city limits of Fort Payne or other municipalities.
Commission President Ricky Harcrow has spoken multiple times about how the costs in the county go up, but the revenue remains relatively stable. But, it is important that we make it clear that the county doesn’t set the tax rate in the municipalities.
Now, for one story or one editorial, it can be hard to include all of those details, and things can get lost in translation or interpretation. So, it is important to make this clear, and we are glad it was brought to our attention.
The county as a whole receives only a small amount of the sales tax revenue — on that, we are happy to set the record straight.
Our View is the opinion of the Times-Journal’s editorial board, which includes Publisher Tricia Clinton-Dunne and Managing Editor Bradley Roberts.