The Jackson Co. Commission is taking the steps to put a one cent sales tax increase proposal back on the board

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — The Jackson County Commission is taking the first steps to put a one cent sales tax increase proposal back on the table.

“We see revenues going down and decreasing, so we have to have a new source of revenue. We cut what we believe we can cut to keep managing the business,” Jackson County Commission Chair Matthew Hodges says.

He says that’s the reasoning behind why the commission is working toward a one cent sales tax increase proposal.

For years, the commission has been making cuts and changes to combat a near $2 million budget deficit. This most recent budget eliminated the deficit, but that came with hefty cuts across the board. Hodges says in order to move forward, there has to be a revenue source.

Just last year Jackson County residents voted on a one cent sales tax increase but it was voted down. This time around Hodges says there will be different aspects to this measure. “What we’re requesting for this whole process is basically a tax that would go for a six year term,” Hodges explains, “So every six years, or at most every six years, it would come up for election.”

Residents could either continue the tax or not. Also, the commission is proposing to clearly earmark the funds on the ballot. Hodges says those two aspects were voiced as concerns last time around.

Lastly, if passed, the commission is proposing to make changes to the millage rate. “We would either reduce our millage rate slightly or we would cut out the millage rate on our automobiles,” Hodges says.

The commission has been looking at other alternatives. “We want to be as open, and clear, and honest as possible, and really this is the best solution,” Hodges says, “There are some really complicated things we talked about out there but it wasn’t going to work, and I don’t think it could have been explained very well.” Hodges says this proposal would garner the growing source of revenue the county needs. Also, he says it’s easy to understand, which lends to the transparency the commission wants, unlike other options.

Hodges says other tax increase options that were mulled don’t grow as much a one cent sales tax increase could. “The commission really feels though, that the sales tax has the biggest impact on the future of this county because it does grow,” Hodges says.

Commissioners say another aspect to the sales tax increase is that the burden of that increase wouldn’t be solely paid for by the county’s residents. Visitors would contribute to that as well.

Despite headline activity in Jackson County – like Google’s recent announcement of a new data center, and TVA’s even more recent announcement of discussions on the future of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant — county officials say they feel that this one cent sales tax increase proposal is the best avenue to move the county forward. “With all of the things happening, we don’t see where the county’s financial situation is going to be solved by that,” Hodges says.

The county won’t receive property taxes for the Google data center project as a typical incentive.

The proposal has to go to the local legislative delegation in what would be one of the first steps in a long process. If approved and the necessary steps are taken, the proposal would head to Montgomery. If all of the necessary avenues are approved there, it would come back to Jackson County. Then the commission would pass a resolution to put on the ballot and designate earmarks. Then residents would vote on the tax increase proposal.

Hodges says the proposal is expected to go to the local legislative delegation this week.

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