Ordinances a hot topic at meeting
Local family airs concerns over city's truck parking law
By BILL CRIST Publisher
Proposed and amended ordinances were a hot topic of discussion at Tuesday's Brewton City Council meeting.
At its next meeting, the council may consider whether or not to increase local sales tax on tobacco products.
Brewton Mayor Ted Jennings said that as part of the Amendment One agreement, the state will increase its tax on tobacco. The tobacco lobby agreed not to fight the increase if the state would agree to impose a permanent freeze on the taxes that cities and counties collect.
The city must have an ordinance in place or proposed before Sept. 1 if it wants to increase the local tax. After that, if Amendment One passes in a Sept. 9 vote, the local level will be frozen at 3 cents per pack, which is what Brewton collects now. If the voters reject the tax-reform package, the city and county will be free to raise taxes any time they choose.
Councilman Mervin Huff said he is against any increase in the tobacco tax on the local level.
Councilman Dennis Dunaway said he would like to investigate the impact a local tax increase would have on businesses that sell tobacco products, and whether it would be positive or negative.
The issue will be on the agenda at the council's next meeting.
According to Jennings, the local tax generates about $21,000 annually for the city coffers.
A relatively new addition to an existing ordinance once again became the subject of a controversy at the meeting during the public comment portion.
The ordinance, which addresses the parking of commercial trucks and tractors in residential and certain historic areas within the Brewton city limits, is unfair to at least one local family, they claimed.
Charles and Melinda Hapholdt, of 2206 Dogwood Lane East, each addressed the council, saying they felt they had been discriminated against because of the ordinance.
They said they were unaware the council was considering an addition to the ordinance because no one from the city had contacted them and they don't read the local newspaper.
Charles Hapholdt said he drives a truck for a living, and that when he is home, he parks his trailer in the parking lot at the old Kmart building and drives the tractor and parks it at his residence.
He said that he often arrives in Brewton at 2 or 3 a.m. and that he drives his truck through his neighborhood at that time and parks it on his property, not on the street or sidewalk. He said his only alternative would be to call his wife, wake her up and have her pick him up.
Councilman Dennis Dunaway asked the council if it wanted to re-consider the ordinance, and no member did.
Trucks were defined in the original ordinance as including "trailers and truck tractors with trailer attached, but shall not include pickup trucks."
The addition to the ordinance prohibits parking trucks (and all automobiles) on sidewalks or utility rights of way; prohibits trucks, trailers and commercial vehicles to park for over an hour unless it was loading or unloading and prohibits trucks from parking overnight in any residential zoning district overnight and also prohibits leaving unattached trailers in the Brewton Commercial Business District.
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