East Brewton raises taxes

Published 5:28 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news reporter
In quick succession Monday, the East Brewton City Council approved increases in taxes and fees city officials said are necessary to bring the city out of a $70,000 deficit.
Residents and shoppers will see an increase in the bottom line as the city voted to increase sales by 1 cent, increase gasoline taxes by 2 cents, increase garbage fees by $4 per month and increase license fees by $20 per year.
Current rates in East Brewton show sales tax at 3 cents; 2 cents on gasoline tax; $20 on garbage fees; with various amounts in place on license fees.
Clark said the city would need $80,000 in increased revenues just to break even. The cost of doing business has increased dramatically, he said.
Clark said a request for a sales tax audit had been made with Ala-Tax, collector for sales taxes across the state, for three East Brewton retailers.
The increases imposed by the council will bring in more than $250,000 per year according to Clark - enough to overcome the deficit and provide for future expenses.
By increasing the sales tax to 4 cents on the dollar, East Brewton will see about $140,000 added to revenues for the year, Clark said. The garbage fee increase will bring in about $60,000 per year with about $44,000 coming from the increase in the gasoline tax. The license fee increase will bring an additional $8,000 per year into the city finances.
Steve Dunaway, superintendent with the city's street and sanitation department, said new garbage and trash trucks will need to be purchased in the not-too-distant future.
Councilmen also discussed the federally mandated raise in the minimum wage as being part of the reason additional funds are needed.
Councilman Henry Hooks voiced his opposition to the garbage fee increase.
Other councilmen said they understood Hooks' reason for voting against the increase.
Clark agreed.
Clark said services from police and fire departments cost money to operate. Other services provided to the citizens of East Brewton include water, sewage and gas service, and garbage and trash pick-up among others.
In voting, all councilmen voted to approve the sales tax and gasoline tax increases. Councilmen Wayne Howard, Kenny Hultz, Ned Siebert and Byron Palmer all voted to increase garbage and license fees, with Henry Hooks voting no on the two actions.
The increase in garbage fees will be effective immediately with the increase in sales and gasoline taxes becoming effective Oct. 1. The increase in license fees will be effective Jan. 1, 2008 when licenses will be up for renewal.