Commission supports idea for 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for hospital (updated)

Published 9:13 pm Monday, July 8, 2013

After rescinding a previously passed motion for an ad valorem tax increase, the Chilton County Commission unanimously voted Monday to support a 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for the construction of a new hospital in Chilton County.

Hospital board member Ken Patterson addressed commissioners at a regular meeting on Monday asking them to rescind their previous motion made on April 22 to support an ad valorem tax increase.

“After asking you to support the ad valorem tax the hospital board thinks it might be better to get you to support a 1-cent sales tax,” Patterson said.

Many local officials, including state Sen. Cam Ward and state Rep. Kurt Wallace, agreed at a recent meeting of the hospital board to pursue the sales tax increase.

The tax increase would have to be approved by the state Legislature and then be voted on by Chilton County residents before it could take effect.

Another item Patterson requested from the commission was to make the current hospital board a “medical authority” that would promote broader medical needs in the county.

Since a hospital board was formed in 1953, terminology for what a hospital board means has shifted and the new name would clarify the definition of what a hospital board is supposed to do, according to board spokesman Judge Sibley Reynolds.

The current hospital board told commissioners they thought it would be best to update the term “hospital board” to the “medical authority” despite no real change taking place other than the name.

Commissioner Joe Headley said he would like to schedule a work session to discuss everything before making a decision regarding the commission’s support for the 1-cent sales tax.

Reynolds said that after talking with the Alabama Legislative Reference Source about having them prepare a proposed act, hospital board members would like to go ahead and have a proposed act in case of a special session with the legislators.

“We definitely want everything prepared for the January session 2014,” Reynolds said.

Commissioner Tim Mims made a motion to go ahead and vote on Monday for the commission to show support of a 1-cent sales tax to be voted on by the people for the use of building a new hospital and the tax would terminate after a certain period of time.

Mims said he thought it would be beneficial to have a “sunset” provision, meaning the tax would expire after a certain number of years.

“I know a lot of people who would vote on a 1-cent sales tax but they aren’t going to vote on something that is indefinite,” Mims said. “This would need to have a limit on it.”

Everyone voted in favor to show support for the 1-cent sales tax along with unanimously voting to rescind the motion to support an ad valorem tax increase.

Commission chairman Allen Caton also mentioned to commissioners that a motion to rescind a standing resolution for a 1-cent sales tax for the county roads needed to be made.

Although Ward and Wallace did not introduce the 1-cent resolution during this year’s legislative session, Caton said it would be best to rescind the resolution to avoid confusion.

The commission also unanimously voted to grant county attorney John Hollis Jackson permission to start the process of changing the name of the hospital board.

In other news, the commission:

•Unanimously voted to send out for bids to fix the current incinerator at the Chilton County Humane Society. Currently, the incinerator at the humane society does not work at full capacity and needs to be repaired. Commissioner Bobby Agee asked if Chilton County was the only county that still uses an incinerator. Caton said he wasn’t sure and suggested both Agee and Mims call funeral homes in the surrounding area as well as other counties to see if they have incinerators or know of anyone who works with them.

•Heard from commissioner Agee regarding placing speed limit signs along County Road 76. Agee said he had received complaints that motorists often speed along the the stretch of road with a 45 mile per hour speed limit. County engineer Tony Wearren said he would take a look at the road and determine the correct speed limit and report back to the commission at the July 22 commission meeting.

•Approved Wearren to buy a pick-up truck for the county from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) surplus yard.

•Unanimously voted in favor of having a speed limit sign posted on County Road 656 in Thorsby for 25 mph.

•Unanimously voted to send out for bids to fix the roof on the Chilton County tag office.

•Unanimously voted to have county maintenance supervisor Pete Davenport look at pricing to fix issues with the men’s restroom at the Chilton County Courthouse.