City aims for bond power
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
A plan that would give Hartselle officials more leverage when it comes to economic development is headed to the state legislature.
Hartselle's City Council recently unanimously approved a resolution that, if approved by a statewide vote, would allow the city to construct, own and operate certain types of commercial developments.
The plan also allows the city to issues certain types of bonds to finance the construction of those commercial developments and to pay off the bond debt with sales and use taxes generated by the new business.
Because of the type of bonds the city would be selling, they would not count against the city's debt rating and the city would not be responsible for paying them back. In essence, the money generated by the new business would be used to retire the debt while also providing sales tax for the city.
"It's nothing but a win-win situation for the city," Councilman Dick Carter said.
The resolution will now go to the legislature for its approval. If the legislature OKs the plan, it would be placed on a statewide ballot, possibly as early as the June 1 primary.
"This puts the city in a much stronger position," in economic development, Mayor Clif Knight said.
The resolution comes on the heels of a meeting with Morgan County, Limestone County and Decatur officials last week. Decatur Mayor Lynn Fowler proposed the idea, but was unable to get a unanimous vote from his council to support the plan. Members of the local legislative delegation said they will not introduce any bill on which a council does not unanimously agree.
The Morgan County and Limestone County commissions approved their own resolutions last week and they, too, could be on the June primary ballot. If the plan doesn't make it to that ballot, it will likely be voted on in the November general election.
Hartselle officials hope the plan would clear the way for greater economic development in the area, particularly on the city's two intersection interchanges.