Sales tax a coming

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Max Joiner likes to talk in simple terms — not much for flashy sentences or fast-worded bureaucratic baloney.

In that style, Joiner’s opinion of the pending Marengo County sales tax increase says a lot.

“I hope we’re past the hard part,” Joiner said Monday.

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The hard part, in this instance, was the perception of trickery when members of the Marengo County Commission passed a resolution calling for a 1-cent increase in the tax. Joiner, chairman of the commission, was questioned about proper public notification of the tax resolution, and one member of the commission felt the public was left out of the discussion.

Today, all the controversy — or the hard part — has become part of history. And when the Marengo County Commission meets this morning, Joiner believes county officials have the chance prove their commitment to constituents.

After commissioners approved a sales tax resolution, the Alabama Legislature had to pass a bill granting Marengo County the right to levy the tax increase. Though even that wasn’t a simple task, Gov. Bob Riley has finally signed the tax bill and commissioners finally can move forward with the tax.

“In the end, I don’t believe anyone who wanted to offer input was left out,” Joiner said. “I think it was a situation where anyone who wanted to have a say got to have a say.”

At this morning’s commission meeting, Joiner said county attorney Woody Dinning Jr. will present members with an ordinance that legally levies the tax. However, Joiner said he had not seen the ordinance and could not give specifics as to increased taxes until Tuesday’s meeting.

Among issues of concern were an increase in the sales tax on car dealers and manufacturers. According to some in the business community, placing more tax on car dealers would greatly hamper their ability to compete with surrounding counties that have lower sales taxes. And placing a higher tax on manufacturers would impede county officials looking to bring new industry to the area.

Joiner indicated all parties have communicated openly about the language in the tax ordinance and feels comfortable that agreements have been met on all ends.

Now that commissioners seemed poised to levy the tax, Joiner said it will tax at least 30 days before an increased sales tax goes into effect.

“The county uses a company called AlaTax to collect,” he said. “We have to give them time to get everything set up, and I think they’re going to need at least 30 days.”

Once the tax goes into effect, Joiner was crystal clear about the first project commissioners would address with the new revenue.

“We need to go ahead and get on with the business of the courthouse,” he said. “We need to help develop a sense of pride in our county, and I believe this will be something that helps.”

Renovating the courthouse and working on the annex are top priorities for Joiner.

“Once we begin doing this work, I know the people will be proud of what we have,” he said. “If we do what we’ve told people, I don’t think there will be any problem.”

The Marengo County Commission is scheduled to meet today at 9 a.m. at the County Courthouse.