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Volunteer fire, roads to benefit from new tax

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
A new sales tax collected in Escambia County beginning this month should show quick dividends for area volunteer fire departments, with improvements to county roads to follow.
The tax is being collected in areas outside city limits in the county. In totally unincorporated areas, it will be a three percent tax. In the police jurisdictions immediately surrounding Brewton, Atmore and Flomaton, it will be a 1.5 percent tax.
The county commission approved the tax in February specifically to help with volunteer fire departments, and to provide funds for much-needed road repairs.
Overall, the commission hopes to raise about $800,000 with the new tax, 30 percent of which will go toward volunteer fire departments, and 70 percent of which will go be set aside for roadwork.
The Alabama Department of Revenue began collecting the new tax on the county's behalf yesterday. Money raised by the new tax in addition to that raised by regular sales taxes comes back to the county in the form of a monthly disbursement from the state.
Sometime around the end of July or first of August, the county should see the first monies raised by the new tax. And almost immediately, volunteer fire departments will start getting some help.
The county plans to turn funds over to the departments as they become available, to be spent largely at the individual department's discretion.
But road repairs will be a little slower in coming, simply because enough funds for a project have to be accumulated before a contractor can be brought in to begin work.
White said that the commission is in the process of putting together a prioritized list of roads throughout the county that need work.