A small crowd gathered last week for a special called meeting at Highland Lake to hear Cameron Clark with the State of Alabama Department of Revenue discuss and answer questions regarding a proposed 1.5-percent sales tax within the police jurisdiction of the town.
Council member Chase Moore kicked off the meeting by saying that the proposed tax does not apply within the town’s corporate limits, which already has a 3-percent sales tax. He said this tax impacts only the areas within the lines of the police jurisdiction. Council member Greg Posey also stressed that point, saying the proposed 1.5 percent does not apply to the town limits. Town attorney Alex Smith explained that sales taxes are usually standard and do include the police jurisdictions of towns the size of Highland Lake.
Clark began his presentation by noting that taxes break down into three types – city, county, and state. He said the proposed rate is based on the town’s size (population of 415) and is not based on the size of the police force. He also pointed out that “state law does not allow the police jurisdiction to be extended.”
Highland Lake Mayor Donna Hanby also explained that the proceeds from the proposed tax would be broken down into three categories – a third for the police department, a third for the local fire department, and a third for Appalachian School. “The money cannot be spent in the city,” she added.
Several in the audience asked if the tax is approved how will residents and businesses be notified. Posey said notices will be posted, word of mouth, Facebook, and through the newspaper. “This is the reason for this meeting, better communication,” he said.
Smith said Highland Lake is the only town he is aware of that has a sales tax, but does not have a tax in the police jurisdiction. “Historically, municipalities have provided services in police jurisdictions and collected taxes,” he added.
Regarding how the tax money would be spent, Posey said, “It is good to have 24/7 police protection and our primary goal is to keep drugs out of here and that school [Appalachian].”
In closing, Clark told the crowd that if the tax proposal passes, it would take effect in 90 days.