FLORENCE, Ala. – In less than two weeks, those purchasing anything in the city of Florence may notice a slight change at the cash register. On March 1, a sales tax increase goes into effect, which creates capital to fund pay increases for public safety.
In mid-January, the Florence City Council swallowed a hard pill. For years they avoided increasing the city’s sales tax, but the numbers caught up with them. Losing experienced police and firefighters due to their low salaries, the council voted to raise the sales tax by one full cent.
“To see all of that happen in approximately a month, that’s exciting,” stated Mayor Steve Holt. “I hope it is too for the police officers and firefighters.”
On March 1, the sales tax rate in Florence goes from 8.5% to 9.5% percent. $1.4 million brought in by the increase will go towards public safety salaries.
“You sit back and you look, and you know what your salaries are at your department; and you notice some are higher, a lot higher, than others,” Fire Chief Jeffrey Perkins explained.
Starting April 1, salary adjustments will begin hitting the paychecks of officers and firefighters. The city council recently approved the new pay structure. Rookie cops through Sergeant and rookie firefighters to driver/engineer will roughly see 13% extra in their check.
“It will most definitely help with retention, and I think it will also maybe help with morale as well,” said Perkins.
Mayor Holt says this makes public safety salaries much more competitive with sister cities across the state.
It is estimated the full-cent sales tax increase will generate $9 million a year. The extra income will be used for maintenance to city properties as well as paving streets.