Florala sales tax vote fails

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mayor proposes half-cent tax to fund projects

An attempt to pass a new half-cent sales tax in Florala failed Monday night when the council did not unanimously agree to suspend the rules.

Alabama municipal law allows a council to pass an ordinance, such a sales tax, on the first reading if the council first unanimously agrees to suspend the rules.

Councilwoman Sue Mathis and Councilman Jeff Burleson voted against a motion by Mayor Terry Holley to do so. Council members Sylvia Patton-Wallace, Gayle Robbins and Deborah Inabinett voted in favor of Holley’s motion.

The discussion began with Holley sharing a list of issues for which he’d like to see the town use the additional funds if a tax were approved.

The projects included improvements at Lake Jackson, including items at the RV park and areas; improving the city’s water and sewerage infrastructure; replacing palm trees; attract investors to build a hotel; improve the gym at Florala Middle School; and do upgrades at the library.

Patton-Wallace, Robbins and Inabinett said the response about the possibility of new tax they’ve received has been mixed. Residents aren’t really for it, they said, but they are interested in seeing improvements.

But Burleson and Mathis both said they have not heard residents voice support.

The vote, which would have raised sales taxes within the city to 9.5 percent (four percent for the state; two percent for the county; and three percent, plus the new half-percent for the city). The county has approved a new half-cent tax that goes into effect on Jan. 1.

Forala last increased its municipal sales tax from 2 percent to three percent on Jan. 1, 2015.

The proposed new sales tax could still be passed on the second reading of the proposal with a simple majority vote.