Council opens discussion

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2001

on sales and use tax


Staff Writer

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Troy officials are looking into making a change that could bring in extra money to the city.

When the two-cent sales tax was established years ago, it was set to be a "gross receipts," rather than "sales and use," meaning purchases made elsewhere and delivered here reap no benefits for the city of Troy.

Mayor Jimmy Lunsford wants to see that change.

Recently, he asked City Clerk Alton Starling to talk to the Alabama Department of Revenue about what making that change would entail and the impact it might have.

The mayor said many municipalities have a "sales and use" tax and the Alabama League of Municipalities is making a push for everyone to be on common ground.

Starling said Troy is in the 25 percentile of municipalities which do not have a "sales and use" tax.

"I think it’s something we definitely should consider," Lunsford said.

He said sales tax collections for 2000 were about $83,000, which is "not very much."

If the change is made, the Department of Revenue estimates $250,000 could be generated.

Briefly, the change would allow the city to collect two cents on every dollar spent somewhere else. For example, if someone goes to Montgomery to purchase a bedroom suite and has it delivered to their home in Troy, their hometown would be able to benefit from the sales and use tax.

As it stands now, the state collects its four cents, the county gets one cent on each dollar and Troy gets nothing.

If Congress lifts its moratorium on taxation of Internet purchases, Troy could even benefit more, Lunsford said.

"We need to position ourselves to benefit," Lunsford said, adding the change would "put local merchants on a level playing ground" with companies elsewhere.

In other business, the council:

· Heard a request by Phyllis Owens of Enterprise, who wants to open a billiards hall in the Parklane Shopping Center on South Brundidge Street.

She told council members, in 1989, she went into the billiards supply business in Enterprise and, on Christmas Eve 2000 closed the door to her billiards hall in that city.

"In 11 years, I had two incidents of problems," Owens told council members. "I run a decent business."

Owens described the Troy location as "a family recreation room."

She said the local business would have six coin-operated tables and six drop-pocket tables. It would be open seven days per week, beginning at 6 p.m. and closing when the last person is finished playing.

Council President John Witherington said he, personally, has "grave reservations" about the location of the billiards hall, considering it would be located near Southside Baptist Church and would not have established closing times.

· Rezoned about four acres of property on Elba Highway East at Country Club Drive from residential to commercial office.

· Was told transfer of an anonymous donation has been completed and purchase of the property between Bicentennial Park and Troy Bank & Trust will soon be complete. Since the cost of the property is to be no more than $200,000, Lunsford said there will be money remaining.

· Members were asked to consider a request from the Pike County Fire Fighters Association to help them purchase a fire safety house.

Robert Catrett, vice president of the Association, said $14,000 has been raised, but $25,000 is needed, which, he said, is "a small price to pay for someone’s life."