Bentley authorizes local legislation

Published 12:04 am Friday, June 5, 2015

Lodging taxes will increase in the next 90 days. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Lodging taxes will increase in the next 90 days. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Gov. Robert Bentley recently signed a local lodging tax increase bill that’s expected to generate an additional $150,000 in revenue each year in Covington County.

The county lodging tax increased from 4 percent to 7 percent, thanks to local legislation shepherded through the legislature by by Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, and Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Elba.

The other local bill passed for Covington County this session will increase the allowance for members of the Covington County Board of Equalization $10 to $75 per day.

“I’m very appreciative that he signed the bills,” Covington County Commission Chairman Bill Godwin said. “We felt like this was something we needed to generate some needed revenue.”

The previous lodging tax generated an average of $160,000 per year, Godwin said, adding that the new tax will give the county approximately $150,000 in additional revenue each year.

Godwin said the additional revenue will go a long way to help pay back the bond issues at the airport. The county, and the municipalities of Andalusia and Opp, are currently refinancing the bond issues.

The lodging tax bill only increases the portion of lodging taxes allocated to Covington County. There is a 5 percent lodging tax in Andalusia; 5 percent in Florala; and 1 percent tax in Opp.

On the expense allowance for the board of equalization, Godwin — who served on the board for seven years — said the reimbursement allowed needed to increase to help pay for the members’ expenses. The board of equalization is a three-member board that is appointed by the governor, and hears disgruntled taxpayers or anyone who protests the value on their property.

The expense allowance will be paid out of the county’s general fund.

“Having served on that board for seven years, I felt like that the people needed to be reimbursed enough to pay for their lunch,” he said.

Godwin said the bills will go into effect in 90 days.