Chelsea public hearing on one-cent sales tax increase

Chelsea debates sales tax

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A proposed one-cent sales tax is expected to generate $1.5 million a year for the City of Chelsea.

Mayor Tony Picklesimer says that money will be only earmarked for education.

“A lot of our teachers, or most of our teachers are having to pay for some of their first of the year supplies out of their pocket,” says Mayor Tony Picklesimer.

One of the things mayor would like to do with the money is give each teacher $500 at the start of the year to help with out-of-pocket expense. It could also help with the high school football restroom that’s been out of order for years (in need of an $8,000 repair), and it could go to pay the salary of an administrative assistant which has been partly covered by donations to the PTO.

“These examples are not the impression that we want to project for our beautiful city,” said Picklesimer.

By a show of hands, it appeared half the room was in favor of the increase, the other half were split between against and undecided.

“You’re never going to please everybody,” says one speaker.

One speaker said she is for the schools, but against the increase, fearing donations to the PTO will suffer.

“By raising this sales tax, people will have less discretionary income to donate and will be under the impression that, hey, don’t worry about it, the city will take care of it. You will always need fundraising. Always,” says the speaker.

Others quoted research to support their position.

“It basically states that increased education funding has a positive effect on the health of a community, has reduced rates of alcohol use, tobacco use, and reduced rates of unintended pregnancies. So increased education funding has measurable, positive impacts,” says Chris Fielding.

“Economists have shown in repeated studies that tax hikes will slow economic activity and reduce employment,” says another speaker.

There were suggestions to increase volume and bring in unique businesses to attract more shoppers. Others suggested maybe just a half-cent increase.

Chelsea has no property tax right now and the mayor wants to keep it that way - so that isn’t an option. The council says they will review the tape of tonight’s meeting and decide what to do after that.

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