Nobody knows what’s inside tax package

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 21, 2003

The confusion during and after the Demopolis City Council meeting on Thursday spoke volumes about the tax reform package Gov. Bob Riley has proposed to state voters.

On Sept. 9, constituents in this state are supposed to decide whether or not to support Riley’s proposal and even our city’s elected leaders don’t know what in the heck is going on.

During that council meeting, Mayor Austin Caldwell suggested that council members consider doubling the tobacco tax in Demopolis. His reason made sense: Apparently, Riley’s tax package includes a provision that will not allow cities to raise tobacco taxes again. And according to the mayor, this portion of Riley’s tax package can pass even if the rest of the package doesn’t pass.

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Now hold on one second. Every report circulated through state newspapers and TV stations has said that Riley’s tax package is an all-or-nothing package. Citizens will either vote to accept or reject Riley’s package. We’ve been told it’s a yes or no vote.

But according to what Caldwell heard at the League of Municipalities meeting, there is one portion of the tax package that can pass even if everything else fails.

Council members Woody Collins and Mike Baker summed it up best. Both said they don’t know and they don’t understand what the governor’s tax reform package really says.

If that’s the case, and our city’s elected officials don’t understand the package, how in creation are the rest of us supposed to understand what Riley wants to do?

The simple answer is: We don’t know. We don’t understand what Riley’s package says and most of us don’t have three hours a night for the next two months to read through academia that explains everything in Ph.D. language.

According to Riley’s press office, there will be an all-out campaign across Alabama to educate voters on his tax proposal. Well, we’re nearing the one-month countdown and most of us don’t know the first thing &045;&045; not to mention those city officials who don’t understand the plan.

During Thursday’s council meeting, our officials discussed whether or not to pass a new tax and they didn’t even know if passing the tax was needed. Talk about confusing!

Riley has already begun his campaign swing through the state, and we beg of him to make a stop here. If we need to raise tobacco taxes, then so be it. If we don’t, we’d sure like to know that too.

Either way, our city officials &045;&045; along with all constituents in this community &045;&045; need to understand the details of Gov. Riley’s tax reform plan. If the education process doesn’t start soon, most will have a hard time passing the plan.