Commission discusses 1-cent sales tax

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2009

As the Chilton County Commission considers new ways to bring in revenue, they find themselves in a unique position.

Like neighboring Bibb and Coosa counties, the county is extremely limited in funding. Unlike those counties, however, Chilton finds itself on the I-65 corridor, between two of the fastest growing areas in the state.

“Chilton County’s in a pickle,” commissioner Allen Caton said Monday during a work session. “They’re sitting in a great opportunity but don’t have anything to offer right now.”

The commission’s next attempt at enhancing county revenue will likely be a 1-cent sales tax referendum on the June 1, 2010 party primaries.

There is currently a 1-percent sales tax levied countywide, which goes 100 percent to Chilton County’s public schools. This tax represents the smallest percentage of sales tax levied in any local municipality.

Sales tax is broken down identically in Clanton, Jemison, Maplesville and Thorsby. Each municipality levies a 3-percent tax. When combined with the county’s 1-percent school tax and the 4-percent state tax, the total is 8 percent.

Sales tax is equal in neighboring Calera, although county tax may vary according to the city’s Web site.

A retail shopper in Prattville, however, will pay 8.5-percent sales tax, with 2 percent going to Autauga County and just 2.5 to the city.

Caton indicated the commission wants to use the proposed tax to improve the quality of life here.

“As the commission, we’re not pushing for a sales tax. We’re offering it to the people as a way of bettering their county,” he said. “If they don’t want to better their county, then vote ‘no.'”

Chilton County’s 1-percent tax earmarked for schools yielded $3,068,677 for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Caton said the county needs comparable funds. Both Caton and commissioner Joe Headley have entertained the idea of earmarking the proposed tax for the paving and resurfacing of roads.

“I’m against earmarking for anything,” commissioner Red Turnipseed said Monday.

If the proposed tax is placed on the ballot and fails, commissioners fear that cuts would become much more drastic.