Citizens Want Greater Influence Over Huntsville Sales Tax Decision

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In Huntsville, the city council gets set to vote on a one-cent increase to the sales tax to match state funds for road projects.

But critics question the process for approving the tax.

Mayor Tommy Battle says, “It’s on of those cases where the easiest thing would be to sit back and say this is a state problem.  Unfortunately a state problem becomes our problem.  We’re going to move forward and make sure we solve our problems.”

City leaders plan to do that with a one-cent sales tax for Huntsville, but the tax as introduced at city council covers more than just the project cost and goes on indefinitely, frustrating some.

Huntsville Citizen Gary Brashers notes, “The whole point of the tax is for the roads, but he’s also generating twenty-to-thirty-percent additional funds to go to other projects.  but we’re not told what those projects are.”

Critics like Gary Brashers say the whole process seems rushed and opaque.

For his part, the mayor believes they’ve trotted out the tax everywhere necessary, “We’ve been through the legislature.  We’ve been through the governor’s office.  We’ve been through neighborhood associations.  We’ve been through civic associations.  We’ve been through community associations and business associations.  So we’ve talked to practically everybody out there to try to let them know that this is something important.”

Brashers isn’t even entirely unconvinced about the project. He tells me he understands the need for infrastructure.  He just wants a say in it, “Why can’t we vote on it?  Why can’t I vote on whether I want a tax increase or not?  The city is going to decide.  The five members of the city council will decide.  What if it’s three-two?  So we’re saying that one person is going to decide on a one-percent increase of the sales tax for Huntsville.”

He just wishes projects like these would come up for public approval, “If we need $125 million and the citizens want it, let’s generate it.  Stop it.  And if they want something else, come back to the citizens and ask for it.”

It was suggested during a work session that a “sunset provision” be introduced – that would cut the tax off once the funds for the road projects are raised.

All this should come back up on Thursday when the city council is set to vote.  State leaders want a quick decision to get started on the projects.

Until then, you can contact your council representatives to voice your opinion.

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