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7.5 mill plan to go before voters Aug. 24

By Staff
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
After years of bickering and countless revenue-generating plans, the people of Hartselle will get their say on a property tax increase.
The referendum will be held Aug. 24 to coincide with the municipal elections.
Citizens will be asked to decide on a 7.5 mill property tax increase. Revenue generated by the tax will be split three ways: 2.5 mills for street improvements; 2.5 mills for capital improvements; and 2.5 mills the city will set aside for future school construction.
The 7.5 mill request is less than the 10 mills the city had been seeking. The council had previously approved a referendum for the higher amount, but the local legislative delegation wouldn't set the date for a vote because the council request wasn't unanimous.
Following that defeat, City Attorney Larry Madison found a loophole that allowed the city to set the date without legislative approval, as long as the requested amount didn't raise total non-school property taxes above 12.5 mills.
The council split 4-2 on the 7.5 mill plan, with Councilman Frank Jones and Alvin Abercrombie, voting against.
Councilman Don Hall, who presented the 7.5 mill plan, said he feels earmarking the funds will be a strong selling point for residents.
"When it's put to the voters in this manner, it's written in stone that you have to spend money on that particular item," Hall said. "Any type of property tax that has a chance of being blessed by voters, you've got to break it down and show them where it's going."
But not enough of the money is going to the city, according to Jones, who said that was the reason he couldn't support the 7.5 mill plan.
"This approach is going to do nothing more than patchwork the current financial situation," Jones said.
Alabama law allows municipalities to hold their own property tax referendums if the sought-after increase doesn't push the city past a 12.5 mill limit. Currently, 5 mills of all property taxes in Hartselle go to the city.

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