Archived Story

Tax increase is inevitable, but other options exist

Published 7:44pm Friday, July 25, 2014

Dear Editor:
The second of two community meetings concerning the 1-cent sales tax increase for street maintenance in Alex City was held Thursday evening. I unfortunately was unable to attend. I understand from several calls this morning there was a good turnout  of retailers who will be  most affected by this increase. There is also an editorial from the city council in Friday’s paper on the subject.
I attended the first meeting and I see the wording the council used may have changed a bit. The two words I got stuck on from the first meeting were critical and essential. The council members stated the situation with the roads was critical and the only money that could be cut from the budget would be from essential services such as fire, police and ambulance.
Now I am going to anger everyone in Alex City.
None of the extracurricular activities such as the golf course and any of the activities at the Sportplex are essential. These are great things to have if you can afford them, but these activities are not ESSENTIAL. The point I am trying to make is the council is using inflammatory rhetoric to achieve their goal. I think the tax increase is an easier route to achieve their goal than to wade through one hundred and forty four pages of budget documents, do the necessary cuts, administrative adjustments and holding department managers accountable for their respective budgets. Why have the roads suddenly gone bad? Did the past administrations ignore the problem? Has no one in our city administration ever heard of preventive maintenance?
The GDP has lost 2.9 percent this year – which translates into a decreasing economy. Now you want a sales tax increase to further decrease our sales and your revenue. Also the citizens will only be guaranteed the increased tax revenue will be used on the roads for the next two years. After the next election the next city council may decide to use the money for something else.
My opinion is the tax increase is inevitable.  As a compromise for the tax increase I would ask the council to give a portion of the tax revenue to the school system earmarked to pay down the school debt. We have been told our school debt is normal for a system our size and I disagree. No debt is normal.
Also I would ask the council to establish an entertainment district in downtown Alex City and initiate legislation to allow Sunday sales of alcohol. I hope at this point we are finally getting citizens attention. Thank you for your time.

Woody Baird
Alexander City

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