Public input sought on tax
Capital Improvement plan hinges on additional revenue
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Mayor Clif Knight said even though a 6 percent revenue increase for the first three months of the new fiscal year is encouraging, Hartselle will still need to seek alternate revenue sources to get a proposed five-year Capital Improvement Project (CIP) up and running.
According to Knight, City Administrator Ferrell Vest hopes to present the council with a draft of the proposed CIP by the end of January. If it is approved, Knight plans to hold a public meeting in early February for citizens to identify pressing issues within the city and possible means of revenue to address those issues.
One of those possible revenue sources could be a 10 mill property tax increase.
"My desire is to present the issue of a possible property tax increase to the city," Knight said. "I certainly would not want to move forward without the community's support, but if the issue is to be voted on, it is important that we get the ball rolling now to get it on a ballot in March."
Knight said if community support is evident at the public meeting, the proposed property tax increase would then be presented to the Legislature when it reconvenes in March. If the local legislative delegation approves, the issue would be put to a city-wide vote.
The future of the tax increase, Knight said, hinges on the public comment at the hearing.
"There's no sense in holding a vote, costing the city $25,000, if the interest just isn't there," Knight said. "That would be a total disaster."
A workshop was held last January consisting of 30 city leaders and concerned citizens to identify Hartselle's most pressing needs. Knight said fire department upgrades, road improvements, emergency sirens, and a community center in the old F.E. Burleson auditorium were at the top of the list.
"The city just can't address these needs with existing revenue resources," Knight said. "The wet/dry issue failed, so a property tax increase is another option. I hope to see 100 percent council support with this issue in order to carry a strong front if or when it comes to a vote."