Now that Florence has increased its sales tax, where is the money going?

FLORENCE, Ala. – Tuesday night the Florence City Council raised the sales tax rate by a full cent, bringing it to 9.5 percent. Some of the revenue generated will be used to increase salaries in public safety, but where else the money go?

“We’ve been cautious; we’ve been careful,” stated Florence Mayor Steve Holt. “We’ve had enough growth to maintain us, but not enough to really keep us going forward.”

$1.4 million a year will be used to increase the salaries of entry level public safety employees. Mayor Steve Holt says the rest of the revenue generated, a projected $8 million, will be used to pay for projects which haven’t fit in the city budget for years.

“It probably caught up with us some time ago, but in my opinion we just can’t put this off,” explained Holt. “We have to address what we own.”

Mayor Holt says many of the city owned properties are in dire need of attention. Those include public safety buildings, recreation centers, museums and parks are just some of the things on the to-do list.

“All of these things need renovations, just pure up-keep and maintenance," he said. "In addition to that, I’m going to propose we do at least $1 million a year in paving and striping.”

The treasurer for the city of Florence says they hope to begin collecting the additional sales tax on March 1st. The sales tax increase in Florence must be advertised for 30 days before it can be collected. Of the 9.5 percent sales tax rate collected from purchases, the city of Florence only receives 3.5 percent.

Raises for public safety employees could begin as early as April 1st.

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