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One cent sales tax increase proposal in Jackson County won’t move forward this legislative session

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. -- A one cent sales tax increase proposal in Jackson County won't be moving forward in this session.

Recently, the Jackson County Commission was told that an issue with the verbiage in its one cent sales tax increase proposal stopped its progress in the legislative session. Legislators say the verbiage in the bill didn't match the verbiage in the referendum and that caused the hindrance.

Now, another aspect of the bill is stopping its immediate progress altogether.

There were multiple aspects to the one cent sales tax increase proposal that differed it from the one Jackson County residents voted down last year. One proposal was, if passed, there would be a reduction to property taxes.

How that was worded in the bill was what the Legislative Reference Service found unconstitutional when reviewing the changes to the first wording issue, which included a space left blank within the bill. "When they sent it to LRS for revision based on the blank space issue, that's when LRS caught it, was the second time they reviewed it," Commission Chair Matthew Hodges says.

The proposal regarding the property tax can be done, but the way it was worded in the bill was found unconstitutional.

The bill most likely won't make it back in this session. "We'll present it either in a special session if they do have one in the coming months, or the session next year," Hodges explains, "The regular session next year."

If the proposal doesn't move forward this year, in looking to next year, everything depends on the status of county's revenues. "If they continue on the trend where they're at, or even get worse as we expect some of them will, then we may have to make more cuts," Hodges says, "That's just kind of the big kicker. The unknown right now."

The county already cut out appropriations this year. That's money to entities like the Sheriff's Office, rescue squads, libraries and other organizations. If nothing changes, that could be an option next year.

Another option could be limited road paving with local dollars, and as it is presently, the county might not be able to continue road litter maintenance.

Changes to the courthouse hours could be an option as well. "The bottom line for us is we don't have dollars to maintain even the basic needs of this county, so extending beyond that is very difficult," Hodges says.

The county plans to have the bill prepared and ready for the next opportunity.