Residents speak out on tax

Published 1:18 am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Twenty-one people spoke at Andalusia’s council meeting Tuesday night. Here’s what they said:

 • Wyley Ward (Against school tax, supports 1 cent temporarily for street repair): He said he doesn’t support a tax or schools because money has been “squandered” in the past 12 years.

“I do not like any new taxes, but I do understand the need to upgrade the oldest street in the City of Andalusia, and it may be worth a temporary, 1 percent sales tax increase.”


• Willie Thomas (Yes): “I speak in behalf of my students at Bright Beginnings, who cannot speak for themselves.”

Thomas said Bright Beginnings was begun as a preschool program for 3- and 4-year-old students who could not afford to go to a preschool. Without the help of the city, he said, the program would include one class instead of four.


• Jason Jewell (No): The former councilman said he felt like the way the ordinance was handled did not leave enough time for discussion and called the process “unfair and unethical.” Jewell advocated cutting expenses as opposed to raising revenue, and asked the council to agree to “take it off in 18 months to two years.”

• Pressley Boswell (No opinion): “I am the official, unofficial guest of the Andalusia Council.” Boswell attends almost every council meeting, and pointed out that he usually is the only person there.

“We have two radio stations. We never see any representation here. We have two TV stations. We never see any of them. The only media we have here is … the local paper. Y’all come again. We’d love to have you.”


Rebecca Brewer (Yes): The ARH administrator said good quality of life, a good education system, and good infrastructure are critical for maintaining a good hospital, because they are necessary for recruiting doctors.

“I believe everybody here wants a strong community hospital,” she said. “Even if they elect to go out of town for their care, when they have an emergency, they want a good ER and good staff. For me to keep that, I have to focus on recruitment.”


• Ted Watson (Yes): The Andalusia City Schools superintendent said, “I unapologetically to support the 1.5 percent sales tax increase.

“For the first time, you have the opportunity to allow education to pick ourselves up by boot straps, and to do something for us the federal and state governments have been unwilling to do.”


George Momenpour (No): The owner of Sonic praised the mayor for a “wonderful job,” but asked that the city look at expenses first. “If we need it for the kids, we shouldn’t buy the properties here and there first. We should allocate the monies to the school system, which I’m all for it. As the last resort, may be that (tax).”


Chad Long (Yes): A self-identified “Facebook troublemaker,” Long said, “I thought I’d come up here tonight to tell you what the non-country club, non-rich people feel about this.”

Long said the only way to improve Andalusia is through economic development. “It’s been said we don’t need a Cadillac city. I’ve never been to a Cadillac city, but I think we need a Rolls Royce city. We need a city tyat employers want to bring their children to because of our outstanding schools where they’re taught by our outstanding teachers.”

Long said we need “top notch” fire, police and sanitation services, as well as “ball fields which I love.”

“None of this is free,” he said. “Please pass this tax. Spend it on economic development and education.”

Dr. Charles Eldridge (Yes): The  pediatrician said he and his wife chose Andalusia 22 years ago for its excellent schools.

“We’ve never regretted it one bit,” he said. “I have lived here, and worked with children. “I have grown to love the city, and grown to love the city’s children. If we don’t find adequate funding for our children, we can’t support a superior school system.”

• Liz Burt (No): “I believe we need to look at it longer. If you do some millage or whatever, do it for just a short amount of time.”

Ed Short (Yes): The CEO of Covington Electric and chair of the city’s industrial development board said the tax is important to keep the city moving forward.

“Vote the tax in and let’s get on with business.”

• Madison Copeland (No): The co-owner of Copeland Computer Solutions said he supports looking at new avenues for revenue, including an Internet sales tax. He also encouraged the city to pursue and Amazon distribution center.

• Janna McGlamory (No): Said she spoke as a small business person. “We keep talking about bringing new jobs, can we take care of the ones we already have? Somewhere there should be a reward for those who are here and stood by us.” She asked the council to “seriously consider” rescinding it after 18 to 24 months.”

• Kay Fagerstrom (Yes): The AMS librarian said she once had a budget for books, but no longer does. She advocated more programs for high school students, then held up three old books and said, “Does this make you want to read.”

Catherine Brown (No): The general manager of three businesses, two of which are on River Falls Street, said she believes the city has spent money on areas “it shouldn’t be spent in.” She said rather than having spent money on Springdale, the city should have “bought the mall” at the other end of River Falls Streets so it would look like an architect’s rendering and bring shoppers to town.

Pat Strength (No): Said she opposed the way the tax was presented. “I’m for our schools,but not for the way this tax is” and asked the council be “better stewards of what you are entrusted with, and that is my money.”

Marianne Dubose (No): The owner of Pink Peppers said, “A tax rate increase will affect my business. It will affect how my customers shop.

“I don’t need a report, I don’t need a statistic. For every action taken, there is a reaction.”

Duane O’Neal (No): The former member of the council said he is concerned not about children, but about senior citizens living on a fixed income. To the council, he said. “Your mayor is not Kevin Costner and Andalusia is not his field of dreams.”

Mark Pugh (Yes): The president of CDG Engineers said the firm employs 48 people at its Andalusia headquarters and has offices across the state.

“We work for an awful lot of cities and counties in state. I see two types of cities. I see a progressive city and I see a dying city. Andalusia has been a progressive city, and I’m here to support this tax for you to continue to be a progressive city.”

Nancy Robbins (Yes): Robbins said she travels South Three Notch Street regularly and sees a great need to improve it, for motorists and pedestrians.

“We’d be foolish not to fund this project,” she said. “As many of you, I am on a fixed income. But I am in favor of tax increase, at least temp, if it means one life is saved or one life-changing injury is prevented.”

Tim Ramsden (Yes): The engineer, soccer coach, and native of Britain said he never thought he’d be living in a place like Andalusia, which was almost in a state of disrepair when he moved here in 2000. He said the city has strategically used federal and state grants to improve the city, but there are fewer grants available now.

“I love living in Andalusia,” he said. “Don’t miss this opportunity.”