What more can be said about the sales tax issue in Fort Payne?

It’s been covered extensively in multiple meetings, and the city has offered the public the opportunity for comment. Now, it’s time to act, and the city will do that on Aug. 15 at noon in the Council Chambers.  

Fort Payne has proposed a percentage increase from 8 to 9 percent sales tax. Currently, the state of Alabama collects 4 percent of those taxes collected, and 100 percent of those funds goes to the state’s Education Trust Fund. 

Fort Payne collects 3 percent and the DeKalb County Commission collects the remaining 1 percent. 

On Tuesday, the council held its first reading of an ordinance that would amend the previous Sales Tax Ordinance from the mid-80s. Now, think about how much has changed since the 80s — many of you are not wearing the same fashion or hairstyles, listen to the same hair metal bands and your old Ford Pinto hasn’t run in years. 

The times have changed and the needs of the city have changed. It’s time for a tax increase. We need to catch up to those communities around us. It’s time to give our city any possible advantage that it can get.

The 9 percent sales tax is in line with what other surrounding municipalities are doing right now. 

That small percentage increase could mean big things for the city of Fort Payne. 

Councilman Wade Hill has repeatedly said that increasing the city’s sales tax from 8 percent to 9 could bring in an extra $2.8 million. There’s a lot that could be done with that money, and there’s a lot that needs to be done with that money. 

There’s been a lot of discussion already about increasing sales tax, and much of the concern has been about how our elected officials will spend that money — how will they “prioritize?” Where is the “oversight?” 

That’s where you come in — you elected these men and women, and you alone hold them accountable. We trust that they will make the right decision.

On another note, it’s hard for an elected body to go ahead and prioritize how the funds will be spent when they won’t actually see the increase in revenue for a few months. We can discuss it until we’re blue in the face, but eventually something has to be done. 

On Tuesday Mayor Larry Chesser spoke out about the things we would absolutely have to spend the money on. Chesser brought up a $1 million match that is needed for a ALDOT project and another $1 million-plus needed to fix the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant — this will update and repair equipment that has been running 24/7 for nearly two decades. 

Those are things that we will have to either borrow money to accomplish, pull from revenue or cut out of another budget in order to pay the bill. Right now, the money is not there, but pretty soon it could be.

Chesser also went on to say that the city would not be sending the money to the school system “right away” to build a new school, and he wanted to clear up that misconception. While the school system is important, we have “bigger fish to fry.” 

Please contact City Hall or your councilman and make sure your voice is heard — write us letters if you want. They need to make an informed decision, but you also need to understand why they are making this decision. 

It’s something that we need, and the time is now. 

Our View is the opinion of the Times-Journal’s editorial board, which includes Publisher Tricia Clinton-Dunne and Managing Editor Bradley Roberts.

 

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