One cent sales tax proposal moves to next step in Jackson County

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- The Jackson County Commission is taking the first step toward a one cent sales tax which commissioners estimate could bring in 3.3 million dollars a year.

"We've tried to be responsible with the taxpayer's money over the last couple of years, and this isn't just so we can inflate our budgets again, this is so now we can put money where it needs to go, now that we understand what all those needs are,"  Commission Chair Matthew Hodges says.

Hodges says that's why the commission approved a resolution Monday night that is the first step in implementing a one cent sales tax.

The commission is battling what was a known 1.4 million dollar budget deficit for roughly two years. That deficit is now down substantially -- the general fund has been reduced by more than 20 percent.   However, with a steady decrease in some major sources of revenue, the county is having to look at other options to be able to provide services for residents in a way officials say is deserved.

"We want to be able to put this money in the areas that it needs to go to, to again, support that general fund, and get the other things that need to be done in this county taken care of," Hodges says.

Hodges says in addition to aiding with the budget deficit, the proposed one cent sales tax would also help to augment the general fund and fund projects that will directly benefit residents.

Hodges says one of the proposed projects in mind is resource officers in the county's schools.  "We won't be able to do them in all schools, but we do want to put as many out there as we can," Hodges says.

Another goal is to assist the county's fire departments amid current funding changes, which will help keep them up to standard.

Hodges says the county's roads are also on the list. "So far we've been able to manage but I think as we go on the roads are going to continue to deteriorate, and we just don't have the resources to manage those."

He says the commission would also like to fund multiple community projects.

After the commission's approval at Monday's meeting the proposal now moves on to the next step of advertising in the county for about a month.  After that, Hodges says it moves to Montgomery. If passed by the legislature, it goes back to the commission for residents to vote on.

Hodges says if everything falls into place and the residents vote yes this could go into effect by next year.