1-cent vote likely

Published 7:23 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Chilton County Commission is continuing to work on revenue enhancement programs, giving the county the ability to balance the budget while at the same time reducing the need for further service and personnel cuts.

“We are going to have to do something,” commission chairman Tim Mims said during a Monday evening work session. “I am not about to pass an unrealistic budget for next year and then hope. We have got to put something together that lays out exactly what we have and what we’ll need.”

Commissioners are holding regular work sessions between their twice-monthly meetings to plan for the 2010 budget set to begin Oct. 1, 2009 and finding ways for the county to generate additional revenue.

One such revenue enhancement plan, a proposed county business license plan, fell short in the Alabama Legislature when State Sen. Hank Erwin decided not to submit the legislation for a Senate vote.

Discussion now is turning to a plan that would put a one-cent sales tax referendum on the June 1, 2010 party primaries that could generate millions in much-needed operating revenue for the county.

“I believe however we structure it, we need to give the citizens of the county something or I don’t believe they will vote for it,” commissioner Joe Headley said. “I would suggest we set aside a set amount of the funds generated to go to paving and repaving roads each year.”

The commissioners, with the exception of Heedy Hayes and Bobby Agee, who were not in attendance, said they would be in favor of the sales tax if it could be structured to allocate some funds each year to road construction and maintenance.

“I don’t think it would pass otherwise,” commissioner Allen Caton said about the road appropriations. “That work needs to be done, and this would be a good way to ensure we can do some of it each year.”

Although the county already has a one-cent sales tax on the books, none of the money goes to the county’s operation. All of the funds generated by the current tax go to the county school system.

At the end of the 2008 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2008, the schools received $3,068,677 from the sales tax.

In addition to the idea to put the tax on the June 1, 2010 ballot, the commissioners agreed they must all support the measure and campaign for its passage or not do it at all.

“Either we are all going to stand behind it and work for it — or we’re just wasting our time,” Mims said. “Every one of us needs to work as hard if not harder than we did getting elected to make sure this passes, or we will have to face the alternative.”

Both Caton and commissioner Red Turnipseed said the commission needs to work to get the bill’s guidelines set over the coming months to ensure the bill, which will need to go to the Alabama Legislature for approval, is ready by the time the next session begins in early 2010.

“We do not need to be rushing to get this approved at the last minute,” Turnipseed said.

Caton agreed, asking that the commission invite State Rep. Jimmy Martin to one of the commission’s upcoming work sessions.

The commissioner’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Monday, June 22 at 6 p.m.