County may consider tax hike

Published 10:49 pm Monday, October 13, 2008

Today, the Covington County Commission plans to discuss a new way of generating much needed revenue for the county, as well as make minor revisions to the recently passed 2009 fiscal year budget.

Commissioner Harold Elmore plans to ask commissioners to discuss the possibility of requesting local legislation that would increase the amount of lodging tax currently collected in the county.

The matter was first brought to the commission’s attention by District 1 Commissioner Kent Colquett, who, during the last meeting, urged commissioners to seek out additional means of generating revenue.

Currently, the county collects a 2 percent tax, which generated between $55,000-$60,000 during the 2008 fiscal year, Commission Chairman Greg White said. That 2 percent is in addition to the state’s 4 percent tax and any charged by a local municipality if applicable and allows hotels and motels to collect the tax from those who stay overnight in Alabama. Elmore said while no decision is expected today on the matter, he felt it warranted more discussion in light of the county’s financial situation.

“Last meeting, we talked some about it, but decided to table it,” he said. “We know we need to try and do something to get some revenue coming in here. Now, I’m not sure this is the way to do it, but we need to look at it. We’re not trying to run folks out of the county if we do decide to do it. We’re just trying to look at the ways we have to increase revenue for the county.

“Of course, we don’t want to put a burden on the county, but we need to look at other ways to bring in money,” he said.

White said he thinks the commission should explore all avenues before making a decision to increase the tax.

“I think the commission would be well advised to consider all revenue needs along with expenses combined with taking significant steps to cut costs before they do anything or take steps to increase revenue in any single area,” he said.

Additionally, White said the commission plans to ratify the recently passed 2009 fiscal budget to correct a more than $160,000 overstatement of projected ad valorem tax revenue.

“We determined at the last meeting there was a miscommunication on how much ad valorem tax is collected,” he said. “So, we had go back and adjust the revenues and expenses in the budget to reflect that.”

Commissioners are also set to discuss two road projects and the SeniorRx agreement, which is a statewide program administered by the Alabama Department of Senior Services through the South Alabama Regional Council on Aging, who helps seniors reduce the cost of medications.

Today’s meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the county administration building on Hillcrest Drive.