Thank goodness we’re 46th, maybe

Published 12:32 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Alabama is near the bottom in another good category – taxes paid. According to new U.S. Census Bureau reports, Alabama’s state, county and city governments collected $2,782 in taxes per person for fiscal year 2006.

The national median, with half the states below and half above, was $3,700.

That is good news for us, the citizens of the state. That means we get to keep more of our money to spend in the state.

Alabama’s state, county and city governments collected $12.8 billion in taxes in fiscal 2006. At the median rate, Alabamians would have paid an additional $4.2 billion in taxes.

When the taxes per capita are calculated as a percentage of average income, Alabamians have 13.1 percent of their income taxed compared to Wyoming, which was highest at 24.9 percent.

While that is good news in some aspects, it can be detrimental if we expect the government to do more than it currently does now. In Chilton County, only about $16 million comes to the county to fund all of its county departments, including law enforcement, jail, roads and numerous other departments. When you split up that total amount, it leaves little money for all of the county departments to operate.

That total doesn’t include a penny of sales tax money. While your receipt might say that one cent goes to the county, it actually goes straight to funding schools in the county. It cannot be spent for anything other than that.

While we are getting to spend more of our money, we are not able to get as many services out of the county. That is why the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have enough money. It’s also the reason why many roads in this county haven’t been improved in years – maybe even decades.

Obviously, no one wants to think about a tax increase, but that might be needed to continue to keep the services we are used to getting because of the constant rise in prices across the board.

This is a choice we all must consider in the coming months.