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Travis Denning

Sylacauga City Council President Ashton Fowler details proposed sales tax increase


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – With the Sylacauga City Council set to vote on a potential sales tax increase at next Tuesday’s meeting, President Ashton Fowler took some time to lay out the proposed plan for the citizens of Sylacauga.

The vote will take place at the next city council meeting on Tuesday, May 2. If the vote passes, Fowler believes the sales tax increase would go into effect in August.

With the current city sales tax percentage sitting at three, the proposed increase would take the city sales tax up 1.5 percent, bringing it to a 4.5 percent total.

“The idea behind this is wanting to increase our financial well-being for the city,” Fowler explained, “but at the same time remaining the lowest sales tax of the surrounding areas.”

Including county and state tax rates, the total sales tax rate would then come to 9.5 percent.

“Alex City is 10 [percent], Jefferson County is 10,” said Fowler. “We want that tactical advantage of still being the lowest while raising our tax so where we can still have affordability.”

Fowler estimates that the change will raise the average household’s expenditure to a rough estimate of about $300 per year, which comes out to $25 a month and would only affect households that spend upwards of $10,000 a year in the local economy.

On a positive note, Fowler said that it would also increase the city’s revenue by $4 million annually.

The city has big projects in the plans for the future such as the new Parks and Recreation development announced last November that includes an indoor aquatics facility. The financial aspects of these big ventures, according to Fowler, would be far more manageable through a city sales tax increase.

Imperative to Fowler is making sure that the public knows exactly what their money is funding.

“That’s the main thing,” Fowler expressed. “We don’t want people to think we’re raising money, collecting it, and doing whatever we want. That’s not the case.”

Fowler and company have earmarked where the entirety of the conservatively-estimated $4 million per year will go, with the breakdown of that as follows:

  • 20% – Debt service ($800,000)
  • 15% – Street paving ($600,000)
  • 7.5% – Reserve account ($300,000)
  • 12.5% – Police department ($500,000)
  • 12.5% – Fire department ($500,000)
  • 10% – Parks and recreation ($400,000)
  • 7.5% – Capital budget ($300,000)
  • 7.5% – Infrastructure ($300,000)
  • 7.5% – Street department ($300,000)

The largest percentage of the $4 million would go to debt service. Fowler noted that the city of Sylacauga currently pays around $800,000 a year in debt, both new and old. Using 20 percent of the increased funds to pay debts would alleviate pressure and allow the rest of the money to be spent positively, according to Fowler.

Right off the bat, however, Fowler wants to first address the infrastructure of the city specific to the sewer and drainage system.

“I would like a complete underscoping and camera [setup] of the entire sewer system under the city,” Fowler remarked. “Let’s see how our piping stands and what our priority list is of fixing that.”

Second on the list, Fowler pointed out, would be to tackle street paving throughout the city that has gone unresolved or neglected.

All these priorities could be handled in concurrent fashion with the proposed city sales tax increase.

Fowler wasn’t remiss to share that he was in office when the city’s pool was shut down and has a great desire to bring a functioning pool back to Sylacauga

“I would like to revitalize this whole area that needs it badly,” added Fowler. “The citizens deserve it, and we want to give them everything we can while we can.”

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