Mayor's proposed tax increase meets public scrutiny - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mayor's proposed tax increase meets public scrutiny

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Mayor Battle discusses why his one-cent sales tax proposal would be the most appropriate method to fund road projects at Thursday's work session. Mayor Battle discusses why his one-cent sales tax proposal would be the most appropriate method to fund road projects at Thursday's work session.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A one-cent sales tax increase is on the table to raise money for Huntsville's roads. Residents were given the opportunity to share their opinions on Mayor Tommy Battle's proposal during Thursday night's work session meeting.

As the proposal currently stands, your sales tax would go up one percent. After five years, Huntsville would have $125 million, which the state agreed to match in order to completely fund several crucial road projects.

However, some people, including Councilman Bill Kling, believe Huntsville taxpayers should not be responsible for state roads. Kling suggested alternative means of paying for the projects, including taxes on cigarettes and gasoline.

One man who stands behind the mayor's plan is Huntsville resident Bill Johnson.

"Tobacco is pretty well taxed out, as is gasoline. I'm not so sure that would be a better idea. I think the one-cent sales tax would probably be the best approach to making the additional money."

Mayor Battle said before Thursday's meeting that he would do his best to explain why raising the sales tax rate is the best bet.

"We're going to answer all the emails we got, council calls, everything else. We are going to go through a whole list, a litany of questions, and answer all of those. Then hopefully we have answered what people needed to hear," he said.

Other alternatives brought up at Thursday's discussion included increases on business license fees and liquor and property taxes. 

Councilman Mark Russell said he wanted to add a 'sunset clause' to the proposal. Should the city reach its $125 million target for the road projects, the sunset clause would prompt a vote on whether to continue the nine percent tax rate or to change it again.

While most people who came up to the podium during the public feedback section of the meeting, several others voiced a distinctly negative opinion.

One person who came to the podium said the one-percent hike would hurt people who are already struggling. A man received a round of applause after saying he was "sick of the city coming to taxpayers for help."

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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