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Proposed tax could hurt car sales

Patrick Baugh of Baugh Ford in Demopolis and Baugh Chevrolet in Linden is hoping that if and when the new sales tax passes, the Marengo County Commission won’t raise the tax on automobiles and agricultural equipment.

Baugh was vocal in his opposition to the proposed tax during the Marengo County Commission meeting last Tuesday. Baugh said that when the last sales tax (jail tax) was passed about eight years ago the commission placed a half a percent increase on automobiles and farm equipment tax, making it hard for his businesses to compete with dealers in the surrounding counties.

“Right now the tax is 4 percent on a new car in Marengo County. When the jail tax was in place it was raised to 4.5 percent,” Baugh said.

Baugh said that when that extra half a percent was placed on his businesses it made the tax in Marengo County the highest of any surrounding counties. He pointed out that the tax in Clarke County is only 2.75 percent.

“With a $30,000 vehicle, the difference between us and them is around $525,” Baugh said.

He said that the jail tax allowed his competition a chance to come in and make a foothold in his territory. During the meeting last Tuesday he told the commissioners the same thing.

“When the jail tax was passed it had people going to other counties to buy cars because they didn’t want to pay the tax. I just want to let the commission know that if you raise the tax on cars and trucks then you will be hurting yourselves in the long run because people will go out of the county to buy cars,” Baugh said.

Commissioner Max Joiner told Baugh that the county doesn’t receive any of the money from the sales of automobiles; the money goes to all three-school systems and the state.

“Well if you raise the tax, then ya’ll are taking money from the school systems,” Baugh said.

He said that the 4 percent tax is divided into three parts: 2 percent to state, 1 percent to county schools, and 1 percent to Demopolis City Schools. Joiner told Baugh that the commission would sit down with him and ask for his input into the ordinance on the sales tax.

Baugh said he hopes the commission will keep its promise and consult with him and the surrounding businesses that the increase will affect.