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City's cap ex proposal gets mixed reviews

By Staff
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
The Hartselle City Council is asking residents what they feel are the most important needs in the area and if they would support a property tax increase to cover those projects.
The council held a public hearing last Thursday to discuss the Capital Improvement Plan. City leaders have listed some $29.3 in projects ranging from road construction and park and recreation needs to computers and school system needs.
"We can keep our heads above water with what we're generating," Mayor Clif Knight said. "These are other projects that we need to do and we don't have the funds to cover them."
According to City Clerk/Treasurer Rita Lee, a 10 mill property tax increase would generate some $736,000 extra per year. The city's property tax is currently 5 mills. On a $100,000 home, Lee said, the city receives about $50.
Property taxes currently bring in about $374,000 per year.
The city's largest source of revenue is through sales taxes, which generates some $4.2 million per year.
The city's sales tax is currently at 8 percent, with 4 percent going to the state, 1 percent of the county and 3 percent to the city.
Lee said a 1 percent sales tax increase would generate about $1.4 million per year, but city leaders have said they are not in favor of raising the sales tax.
"I am not thinking about raising the sales tax," Knight said. "We should generate revenue through our existing sales tax."
While city officials are pushing the CIP, most residents at the meeting were skeptical of the plans.
"You've given us an overwhelming list that we cannot afford," Linwood Lee told the council. "It's like taking a drink of water from a fire hydrant."
The council formulated the list during a series of work sessions.
Among the items that drew the most criticism were those for the expansion of the landfill, park and recreation department, and the renovation of the old Burleson School. The CIP plan includes $697,000 for expansion of the landfill;$450,000 for park and recreation, including $210,000 for purchasing more land for soccer fields; and $4.5 million to renovate the old Burleson building.
David Sterling of East Main Street, felt such expenses weren't crucial to the city.
"New soccer fields would be nice but when times are bad you don't build new soccer fields," he told the council. "When times are bad, you have to cut back."

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