Citizen Committee Comes Up with Alternative to Penny Sales Tax

It’s not hard to find people around town who like the penny sales tax and the capital improvement projects it funds.

“I think it’s great!” one man said. ” I mean, the roads need paving.”

“If you can see a positive outcome from it, I don’t mind paying it,” another said.

But, 11 city-appointed citizens who make up the Ad Hock Committee For City Revenue and Growth Analysis, AKA the Citizen Tax Committee, dedicated more than a year to studying the city’s revenue sources to see if there’s a better alternative.

Quin Hillyer, who serves on that committee, says there most certainly is. ” It’d be like if you give me 9 dollars and getting 10 dollars in return. That’s what we’re proposing,” Hillyer said.

He said the committee wants to re-balance the city’s revenue sources so Mobile relies less on sales taxes and more on sources that he says are more stable.

The committee came up with a two-part recommendation to replace the penny sales tax; charge a fee for garbage collection and introduce a ten-mil property tax that would be voted on by the public every four years.

“The vast majority of Mobilians, about 3 quarters, would either break even or probably come out a few dollars ahead per year with our proposal,” Hillyer said. “They would pay less total taxes a year with our plan than they do now.”

Mobile’s Finance Director Paul Wesch says the revenue this year is up by more than 2 percent, but that’s still less than they projected.
” That means we need to be very careful in our budgeting and not be optimistic at what revenue growth could be,” Wesch said. “So, we’ll be watching that closely as we move into the 2017 budget cycle.”

That’s one of the reasons people like Hillyer want city leaders to consider getting rid of the penny sales tax when it expires in 2018.

After city council approved the $21 million Capital Improvements plan at Tuesday’s meeting, several of them praised the penny sales tax and the work they’ve been able to accomplish it.

With the tax’s expiration date more than a year away, it’s unclear when they’ll discuss whether or not to renew it.

You can read the committee’s complete recommendation HERE:https://www.cityofmobile.org/announcement_files/citizenstaxcommissionlettersizev54bess.pdf 

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