Gadsden mayor concerned with state bill cutting occupational taxes, funding

Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 11:26 PM CST
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GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - The legislative session starts next month and a mayor in Etowah County is concerned about a bill that could cut funding from his city and 25 others.

Senator Andrew Jones says five of the six highest occupational rates in the state are in Etowah County and he wants to diminish those rates.

“Occupational taxes are taxes on people for the privilege of being employed,” Sen. Jones said. “I have a disagreement fundamentally with occupational taxes for that reason because they’re a disincentive for people to work in a day and age where we want to be encouraging people to be employed.”

Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford says the bill will cut funding from cities.

The City of Gadsden said in a press release:

“We currently have eight fire stations,” said Mayor Ford. “We’d cut three fire stations, shut them down totally. It would increase people’s ISO ratings on their homeowner’s insurance. We would lay off over 30% of our workforce. It would cripple our city. We’d either have to go into bankruptcy or we’d either have to just have massive layoffs of government services and employees.”

Additionally, the mayor mentioned cuts would also come to “the number of police officers, number of firefighters, number of community fire stations in operation, garbage collection routes, leaf and debris collection routes, parks and recreation programs, outside agency funding (schools and nonprofits), and more.”

“There is no bill at the moment but if you use the bill that we’ve discussed in the past, you’re phasing out over a 20 year period,” said Sen. Jones. “You’re decreasing by a limited amount but you’re also having budget growth due to inflation year after year so it’s not accurate that you’d be losing that much of a city budget in one moment.”

The Senator says before releasing the bill, he’d like to talk with all the mayors it would impact.

Mayor Ford is hosting a town hall meeting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, at The Venue at Coosa Landing. He says he wants to talk with the residents about the impact the bill is going to have on the city and neighboring municipalities.

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