Mayor introduces tax plan for improvements
By Michael Butler
Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock discussed tax options for improvements with the city's failing infrastructure at the Feb. 12 council meeting. Hammock also spoke of dollars that could assist with a new high school and recreational facilities.
The conversation was spearheaded by immediate needs with the wastewater system. Alabama Department of Environmental Management's (ADEM) Jeff Harris addressed the council on a pre-application for the state revolving fund loan after an analysis is complete.
"There's a protective action that ADEM is taking with the city," Harris said. "There are some improvements that have to be made throughout the system. Some of those are treatment related. Some are things that are happening back in the system."
Hammock called the needs with the sewer sytem, "the tip of the iceberg," citing various other issues like; the city's filter plant, cast iron gas and water lines.
"All this stuff costs money," said Hammock. "We need to start working on the future of the city. We need fiber. We need a new high school. We have recreation needs; new fields, a swimming pool and rec center."
Hammock who ran for office on a 'no new taxes' platform, said there are no other options.
"The bond payment is escalating by year. We have sales tax we can increase. There’s occupational tax and ad valorem tax. I’ve been working on this for months.
"We have to think about this city as a whole not just the constituents of each ward. I think the council should consider a five mill tax and a sales tax on the Elmore County side only. That would raise it to 10 percent." Tallapoosa County is already at 10 cents on the dollar within the city limits.
Hammock listed the figures for a proposal on ad valorem and sales tax.
"A five mill tax would generate I'm guessing $250,000. We wouldn't see that until next year," he noted. "A sales tax up to 10 percent on the Elmore County side would generate about $700,000."
Monies could be earmarked for improvements on infrastructure, schools and recreation.
"We're looking at close to a $1 million," Hammock added. "Out of that, we give the school $350,000. They can go ahead and start their new high school, building it in stages. $500,000 for the sewer lagoons, gas lines, water lines and and filter overhaul. That leaves $100,000 to earmark for the recreation department."
City finance chairman Bill Godwin agreed that new avenues for additional revenue streams must be considered.
"You can see that we don’t have the money to do what we need to do," Godwin said. "We’ve got to face this and do what’s best for the city. We’ve got to generate some revenue. The good old boy system was worried about losing a vote."
Hammock expects backlash.
"Everybody’s going to come at you with their own personal interest," he said. "We’ve got to do a tax now. There’s no other way we can pay what ADEM is about to make us do."