Leaders say Huntsville tax increase 'all or nothing' situation - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Leaders say Huntsville tax increase 'all or nothing' situation

Residents and city leaders attended a town hall meeting Monday night to discuss the proposed tax increase. Residents and city leaders attended a town hall meeting Monday night to discuss the proposed tax increase.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The Huntsville city council is scheduled to vote on a proposed sales tax increase Thursday evening.

Mayor Tommy Battle proposed the one-cent sales tax increase to help pay for road improvements across the city.

One of the unknowns right now is whether there will be a "sunset" provision attached to it which would keep that tax only until it pays for the seven projects on the table. But according to the mayor, the tax needs to continue to fund future projects.

"A sunset provision takes us from being a long term solution to a quick fix. We will address the seven projects that are there right now, but we don't address the future projects, the projects that are just as important as these seven but are going to come along afterwards," said Mayor Battle.

Future projects include a new north-south alternative to the Memorial Parkway. Research shows that project will be at capacity somewhere between 2029 and 2039.

Many wonder what will happen should the council vote 'no.' The Huntsville City Administrator said Thursday that it's an 'all or nothing' situation. There is no backup plan if the proposal fails.

Officials said the crucial projects would be pushed back in line with all the other state road projects. In some cases, that could delay the projects by ten years or more. Other projects wouldn't be completed at all.

In the case of alternative ideas raised to fund the projects - taxes on cigarettes, gas, et cetera - city leaders said such implementations would cause a competitive imbalance and drive people out of the city to buy those goods. They also said they didn't think those plans would generate enough money.

Mayor Battle said a sunset clause, the expiration of the sales tax raise, is a bad idea.

"We're sitting here in a position where we can take a long-term solution to our problems. The quick fix is the five years. The long-term solution is continually putting money into that fund and continually spending money on road construction," Battle said.

The sunset clause would act as an amendment to the proposal. It will be introduced and voted on by the council Thursday night, followed by the vote on the sales tax increase.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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