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Florala council talks new sales tax

Members of the Florala City Council appear to be leaning toward adoption of a proposed new half-cent sales tax.

Earlier this month, Florala Mayor Terry Holley asked council members to suspend the rules and immediately adopt a new sales tax ordinance. However, it takes a unanimous vote of the council to adopt an ordinance on first reading, and the vote failed, 3-2.

Last night, he introduced the ordinance again for consideration at the council’s Dec. 11 meeting.

If approved, the measure would raise sales taxes within the city to 10 percent in 2018 (four percent for the state; two percent for the county, plus a new half-cent that goes into effect Jan. 1; and three percent, plus the new half-percent for the city).

Three council members, one former council member, and a local merchant all spoke in favor of the proposed tax.

“We hate to tax anything,” Councilwoman Deborah Inabinett said. “But in order for us to have equipment for our employees to work with, we will have to do something. I don’t know what to say. I’m for it and I’m against it. We’ve got to have stuff for our city and if we don’t do something, we’re going to have nothing.”

Councilwoman Gayle Robbins said the city currently is spending lots of money maintaining its deteriorating equipment.

“It’s not fair to employees that when they come to work, they don’t have what they need to do their jobs. I remember Councilman Burleson talking to us about city equipment and poor condition when we came into office. He’s in a position to know that.

“None of us like taxes,” she said. “But I go to Andalusia, and I don’t fuss when I pay there. I agree there are pros and cons for both. But I feel strongly, if we are going to continue to pay 100 percent of employees’ insurance, and not reduce the benefits our employees are getting, we’re going to have to have some kind of extra income. “

Councilwoman Sylvia Wallace-Patton said she is considered about the need to repair roads.

“We want to build the city up, so we will have more businesses come here,” she said. “I feel we’re gonna have to add a half-cent.”

Councilwoman Sue Mathis said she still opposes the tax.

“I’ve still not talked to anyone in favor of it,” she said. “I feel like if it were put to a city-wide vote, it would fail. I was elected to be my district’s voice, and I feel like I would not be doing my job if I voted for something that so many people are against.”

Former Councilwoman Ann Eason, who attended the meeting, expressed her support, as did local business owner Evan Robbins.

“Without this tax increase, Florala will be on the path it’s always been on. I think it would really help the city,” he said.

The council will meet at 6:30 on Mon., Dec. 11.