Jail tax proposal tweaked

Published 3:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2017

A proposed sales tax to fund the construction of a new Pike County Jail would expire as soon as all construction and financing expenses are paid, according to revisions in the drafted bill.

County attorney Allen Jones said the proposed bill authorizing the tax has been changed so that the tax will expire on the first day of the month following full payment of the construction of the jail complex, its equipping and all related financing.

The previous version of the bill set the tax to expire at the end of the first legislative session following the full payment of the costs.

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“What could have happened is if the completion of payment were to happen in August, you could collect a tax for the next nine months that the funds are earmarked to go for the jail,” Jones said. “That’s why it needed to end the first of that next month.”

Jones said that for all practical purposes, this language revision ensures that the tax ends immediately once the jail expenses are paid. Jones said that gives only a few days after the jail payment is completed to remove the tax, which he said is necessary due to the need to give collectors time to terminate it.

“This is the best way to say that,” Jones said. “This is terminating it when its purpose is fulfilled.”

Now that the draft has been revised, Jones said it will be ready to be advertised soon and must run in the paper for four weeks before being introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives. From there, it must be approved by both the House and Senate, and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley.

The bill would authorize the commission to levy a sales tax of up to 1.5 percent across the county except in Troy, where the commission can levy a sales tax of up to .5 percent.

County administrator Harry Sanders said the bill would make sales tax 9.5 percent across the county.

If passed, the tax is projected to bring in approximately $2.5 million in revenue each year.

In addition, the Legislature is also drafting a bill that will raise county court costs by $35 to fund jail It would also add a $500 charge to those convicted of selling or trafficking drugs in the county.

If passed, the costs and fees are projected to raise $200,000 a year.