Babbie looks at sales tax

Published 1:21 am Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Council wants feedback on plan to improve roads

The Babbie Town Council agreed Monday night to table the pursuit of a sales tax, and seek input from its approximately 650 residents at a town hall meeting in March.

Mayor Chris Caldwell said the town has more than $100,000 in road and bridge funds that it can spend, and many in the community feel it should be used to make repairs now.  However, others support making an effort to get grant funding, and saving the money to use as matching funds.

County Commission Chairman Greg White, Commissioner Kenneth Northey and County Engineer Lynn Ralls attended the meeting. Ralls said the county can provide manpower for roadwork if the town provides the materials. Ralls told them the average cost of paving a road is $60,000 per mile.

A dozen people – including the council members and commissioners – weighed in on the issue Monday night.

Opp City Clerk Connie Smith helped the council with research, and said based on figures from the revenue department, adding a 3.5-cent sales tax would generate from $40,000 to $60,000 per year. Smith lives just outside the corporate limits of Babbie, but said she would frequent Babbie stores in support of the tax and better roads if it were approved.

Kim Barber, honor of the Body Exchange, spoke against the proposed tax, and said hers is one of only five businesses in Babbie. Barber said her grandfather incorporated Babbie in 1957 to keep taxes low.

Her parents, Sue Capps and Paul Capps, are both council members.

Mrs. Capps said she also could not support the proposed tax, adding that when the council selects roads to pave, she would not want hers on it.

“I wouldn’t want people to say my road got paved because I was on the council,” she said.

The council plans to have a town meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 4, at which it will decide whether to call a special election on the proposed tax.

But Caldwell said he wants the issue to be handled in a way that people on both sides can still be friends.

“At the end of the day, we can agree with each other or not, but we can all be friends,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of that any more. All of us here is not going to agree on what needs to be done.”

The council also asked Ralls to give them cost estimates for improving streets in the corporate limits of Babbie, and plans to seek input on possible ADECA funding from the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning Commission.