County’s license bill may not pass

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009

The future of a local bill that would allow the Chilton County Commission to establish a county business license is in serious doubt.

With just two legislative meeting days remaining, the bill remains sitting in the Alabama Senate, and local State Senator Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo) has no plans to bring it up for a vote until community concerns are calmed.

“Right now, it is sitting in the basket, and I have told the commission that it will remain there until they correct some of the problems with the bill,” Erwin said. “I have heard a number of strong concerns about the bill from residents — about the way the bill is written and explained—and I do not intend to sign off on the bill until those are cleared up.”

Much of the concern stems from the apparent vagueness of the bill, which does not establish clear guidelines for which businesses would be charged for the license or the structure of the license rates.

Chilton County Commission Chairman Tim Mims does not agree with Sen. Erwin’s take on the bill’s opposition, believing ALFA has encouraged Erwin to oppose the bill in exchange for financial support for Erwin’s run for lieutenant governor.

“He is not supporting the bill because ALFA has asked him to not support it. ALFA is evidentially planning to play a big role in his lieutenant governor campaign, therefore he will not support it,” Mims said. “We were told to talk with ALFA and get them on board. If they got on board, then he would be on board.”

Mims said the commission does not plan to meet with ALFA about the legislation.

“We have no plans to meet with them at all,” Mims said, adding the commission worked with State Rep. Jimmy Martin (D-Clanton) in getting the bill to the Legislature. “We worked with someone we could trust. Jimmy did everything he said he would do.

“As for Senator Erwin, he does not have Chilton County’s interests at heart,” said Mims, a declared Independent. “He’s not done anything for Chilton County.”

Jimmy Parnell, president of the Chilton County Farmers Federation and a former ALFA board member, said it is the Farmers Federation who took a strong stand against the bill, dating back to an April 2 meeting.

“After we as a Farmers Federation decided to oppose this bill, we went to the commission and asked them to reconsider their decision,” Parnell said. “This is nothing more than a tax on business no matter how they describe it.”

Parnell also added any assertions that ALFA had asked for this bill to be killed in return for support in Erwin’s race for higher office is “fabricated.”

“That has absolutely nothing to do with it,” Parnell said. “The decision whether which candidate to support and endorse will be made long down the road. This bill and our opposition to the bill came long before we even knew he (Erwin) would run for lieutenant governor.”

With the bill all but dead, Mims said it is Erwin who will have to take the blame for pending service and employee cuts at the county level.

“It is going to be bad. People just don’t understand—current county employees don’t understand—the cuts we will have to make, cuts in service we will now have to make,” Mims said. “We were hoping that this would allow us to have a little increase in revenue—or at least keep it where it is now, to not have to make these cuts.

“It is going to get ugly.”