Huntsville council unanimously says 'yes' to sales tax increase

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville city leaders overwhelmingly said yes Thursday night to Mayor Tommy Battle's proposal to raise sales taxes by one percent.

Money raised by the sales tax increase will fund the $125 million the city needs for its part in a deal with the state to begin seven crucial road projects.

City leaders said alternative methods of raising the cash – gasoline, tobacco and alcohol tax hikes, for instance, would cause a competitive imbalance and cause people to drive out of the city to obtain those items.

Before the vote on the tax itself, the council voted against a 'sunset clause' that would have set an expiration date on the new rate after the first five years, the time estimated to pay the $125 million off. The vote on the sunset clause was 3-2 against the measure.

In the middle of discussion on the sunset clause, Councilman Richard Showers announced he would be voting yes for the proposal, based in part from feedback he had received from a town hall meeting he held Tuesday.

The vote to raise the tax was unanimous, at 5-0.

The new nine percent sales tax puts Huntsville on par with Decatur, Athens and Arab. The $125 million will be achieved across five yearly payments of $25 million.

The sales tax change will go into effect in March 2014.

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