Upcoming occupational tax vote has polarizing effect

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A big vote will be made next week by Jefferson County Commissioners. They will vote on a new occupational tax. Everyone who works in Jefferson County pays the tax. For the first time if it passes, it will include professionals, doctors, lawyers, architects and plumbers. Taxpayers say it is fair. "Everybody pay their fair taxes. Just like they pay the federal and state taxes. You got to pay the occupational tax," Sherod Spence said.
Others welcome the tax being lowered from .05% to .045%. "If it will lower my taxes it's a good thing. I'm not making it as it is," Larry McCollom said.
State Representative John Rogers sponsored the tax in a recent session of the state legislature. Rogers had to fight to get it out of the statehouse. "Do or die. It's do or die. They got to protect people's jobs. If they don't it will be a travesty," Representative John Rogers said.

Gardendale Senator Scott Beason voted against the tax. Beason says he would welcome the commission rejecting it. "It would not break my heart if the county voted this down. The county has not shown the any ability to re-prioritize their spending to show people," Beason said.
Jefferson County voters will decide if they want to continue to job tax in 2012. If not, it will be phased out over four years. Beason says the county needs to make plans now to live without the money. Rogers says there will be no future bailouts. "No, this is it. It's Katie bar the door. It's this or nothing," Rogers said.
Passage of the new job tax is no guarantee. Commissioner Jim Carns does not like any new taxes and he does not like including professionals for the first time since most live in his district. Commission President Bettye Fine Collins says the $72 million dollars is needed for county jobs and services. If the vote is not overwhelming, Collins has threatened to vote against it.