BLOUNT COUNTY COMMISSION…

Resolution to legislative delegation: ‘authorize referendum to vote on tax plan’

The Blount County Commission approved a resolution in its Monday business meeting asking the Blount County legislative delegation to introduce a local bill allowing the county to hold a referendum for citizens to vote in November on a 1percent general sales tax increase throughout the county. The resolution passed 3-2, with Commission Chairman Chris Green breaking the tie between commissioners favoring the measure – Dean Calvert and Gary Stricklin – and those opposed to it – Carthal Self and Allen Armstrong. The preamble to resolution number 2015-12-02 reads:

“In reference to the ‘Moving the County Forward’ initiative, a resolution in request of the Blount County legislative delegation to introduce and support a local bill during the 2016 regular session of the Alabama Legislature, to hold a referendum to increase county sales and use tax revenues in benefit of schools, fire departments, county municipalities, and county infrastructure.”

Tax provisions

Here are the main provisions of the tax proposal, quoted from the resolution. It would authorize:

• “an additional sales and use tax in the amount of 1 percent of gross sales or gross receipts for tax categories defined by the Alabama Department of Revenue as either General, Amusement, or Vending.” (It increases the county general sales tax rate from 2 percent to 3 percent and the cumulative general sales tax rate from 9 percent to 10 percent in Oneonta.)

• “an additional sales and use tax in the amount of .5 percent of gross sales or gross receipts for tax categories defined by the Alabama Department of Revenue as either Agricultural or Manufacturing.” (It increases the county sales tax rate from 1 percent to 1.5 percent for both Agricultural and Manufacturing categories. Adding the 2 percent levied by the state brings the total to 3.5 for each of the two categories.)

• “an additional sales and use tax in the amount of .5 percent of gross sales or gross receipts upon every person, firm, or corporation purchasing within Blount County, whether new or casual sale (other than at wholesale) any automotive vehicle, to include without limitation any vessel (boat), truck trailer, trailer, semitrailer, mobile home, or travel trailer required to be registered or licensed with the judge of probate of Blount County or the revenue commissioner of Blount County, with the proceeds of such tax to be deposited into the Blount County General Fund…” (It increases the total county tax rate on automotive vehicles from 1 percent to 1.5 percent in Oneonta. The components are the existing one half percent to education, the existing one half percent to Oneonta, and the additional one half percent to the county general fund. Adding the 2 percent levied by the state gives a total of 3.5 percent on automotive sales in Oneonta.)

It should be noted that this is only a tax proposal at this time. It has not been enacted and will not be levied unless the Legislature authorizes a referendum of the people of Blount County and they approve it in the general election in 2016. Paraphrasing proponents, the referendum gives the people an opportunity to evaluate county needs and express their will as to meeting them.

Distribution of proceeds

The tax proposal is expected to produce about $3 million in new revenues annually. The resolution specifies the proceeds are to be paid as follows:

• “ The first $50,000 of collections shall be divided equally between the ISOrated fire departments located within the county.”

• “Fifty (50) percent (approximately $1.5 million) of the remaining funds shall be remitted to the Blount County Commission dedicated to the general maintenance and construction of county roads and bridges.”

• “One third (33.3 percent) of the remaining funds (approximately $1 million) shall be remitted to the Blount County Board of Education and further divided to the Oneonta City Board of Education, pro rata, based on student enrollment (roughly 85/15).”

• 16.66 percent (approximately $500,000) shall be remitted to county municipalities, which lie in whole or in part in Blount County, divided pro rata, based on the most recent decennial census of those citizens who live within the boundaries of Blount County.”

Highlights of other actions

The commission:

• authorized the commission chairman to proceed implementing the courthouse security project by executing contracts with subcontractors. The project is not to exceed $95,000; the project is exempt from the bid law because the public works portion of the project is below the bid law criterion, and the security portion is excluded from the bid law by state law.

• appointed attorney Brett King to the Birmingham Water Works board.

• approved the request of Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts to create a film on rock climbing at Palisades Park.

• adopted resolution 2015-12-01 providing for the county’s participation in a severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday beginning at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 26 and ending at 12 midnight Feb. 28, the last full weekend of February, 2016. During the period, exemption is granted from county sales and use taxes on certain severe weather preparedness supplies.

(ED. – Such materials and supplies will be identified in detail near the time of the tax holiday.)

• authorized commission chairman to sign the agreement for a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham for the fire tower restoration project at Palisades Park.

• reclassified the title and position of road and engineering clerk to administrative assistant and designated it as grade 7 on the current pay scale.

• created a new position titled licensed kennel technician for the animal shelter and designated it as grade 6 on the current pay scale.

• approved a special work session to discuss in detail the ongoing draft revisions of subdivision rules and regulations; tentative time projected as an extension of the scheduled Jan. 7 work session, to be rescheduled as a special session later in January if necessary to meet all commissioners’ schedules.

• adopted the county employee holiday schedule for 2016:

2016 Holiday Schedule

New Year’s Day Friday, Jan. 1 Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, Jan. 18 Robert E. Lee Birthday President’s Day Monday, Feb. 15 Confederate Memorial Day Monday, April 25 National Memorial Day Monday, May 30 Jefferson Davis Birthday Monday, June 6 Independence Day Monday, July 4 Labor Day Monday, Sept. 5 Columbus Day Monday, Oct. 10 Veterans Day Friday, Nov. 11 Thanksgiving Holiday Thursday, Nov. 24

Friday, Nov. 25 Christmas Holiday Friday, Dec. 23

Monday, Dec. 26

New Year’s Day Friday, Jan. 1
Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, Jan. 18
Robert E. Lee Birthday
President’s Day Monday, Feb. 15
Confederate Memorial Day Monday, April 25
National Memorial Day Monday, May 30
Jefferson Davis Birthday Monday, June 6
Independence Day Monday, July 4
Labor Day Monday, Sept. 5
Columbus Day Monday, Oct. 10
Veterans Day Friday, Nov. 11
Thanksgiving Holiday Thursday, Nov. 24
Friday, Nov. 25
Christmas Holiday Friday, Dec. 23
Monday, Dec. 26

Quorum and future meetings

All commissioners and the commission chairman were present at the monthly business meeting.

The next regular scheduled commission work session is Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, at 9 a.m. The next regular commission business meeting is Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, at 9 a.m. Both will be held in the commission boardroom at the courthouse in Oneonta.