LaFayette City Council tables sales tax increase

Published 11:00 am Saturday, November 13, 2021

LAFAYETTE — At their Monday meeting, the LaFayette City Council discussed a potential one-cent sales tax increase, as planned from a previous meeting when they discussed the same topic. The council ended up tabling the item until their next council meeting.

“I’ve been requested to draft an ordinance raising the sales tax in the City of LaFayette from 4 percent to 5 percent on the retail sale of most tangible personal property and entertainment,” City Attorney Joseph (Mac) Tucker said. “Billiards, gaming machines such as that. The sales tax will remain four percent on heavy equipment and on automobiles. There is also a use tax that … reflects the same rates — 5 percent for items that were purchased with no sales tax and brought in city limits and put into use.”

Tucker said the ordinance had been passed years ago, but the percentages were changed to reflect 5 percent on personal property and gaming machines. For most things, the sales total tax would increase from 9 percent to 10 percent.

Councilman Toney Thomas said that while the sales tax increase had been discussed before, the council hadn’t discussed what the extra money would be used for.

LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines said the money was needed for “everything,” especially infrastructure.

“I can say it won’t be used for raises or anything like that,” he said.

Thomas insisted that citizens needed to know exactly how the sales tax money would be used. Vines responded that the money shouldn’t be earmarked for one thing when the city has multiple pressing needs. Thomas responded that he didn’t use the word “earmark” and only said citizens should be told how the money would be used.

“I see that we’re going to raise the sales tax in some areas,” Councilman T Shannon Hunter said. “But in some areas, we’re already much higher than surrounding cities. I don’t feel comfortable with staying that way. So, that’s going to make it hard for me to vote yes.”

Hunter also said that, like Thomas, he thought citizens should know how the money was going to be spent.

“Just remember, this is an ordinance,” Tucker said. “It requires a first reading, which would be a roll call vote, or a suspension of the rules that would require a unanimous vote for immediate passage.”

During a roll-call vote on suspending the rules, Councilman Terry Mangram voted yes, Hunter voted no, Thomas voted no, Councilman Michael Ellis voted yes, Councilwoman Tammie Williams voted yes, and Vines voted yes. Because the vote was four to two, the motion failed. City Clerk Louis Davidson explained that the vote had to be unanimous to pass.

“That doesn’t mean that this body cannot consider the first reading of this ordinance, just because the motion to suspend the rules failed,” Tucker said.

In other business at the meeting, the council discussed the possibility of increasing fees for cemetery plots.

Tucker said the city’s cemetery fees were set by an ordinance years ago.

“As far as setting the fee, I don’t think it’s a very difficult change, as far as drafting the ordinance change,” he said.

A grave space is $50, while maintenance is $75, according to City Clerk Louis Davidson.

George Green, superintendent of Street, Sanitation, and Cemetery, said the city is working to expand a section of the Handy cemetery. He estimated that the new section would have around 2000 or 2,100 grave spaces.

Vines said the average church in the area charges $500 for a grave, and some charge $750. Thomas said he thought $500 was too high and suggested $250 to $300.

The council decided to discuss cemetery plots again at a committee meeting on Monday at 5 p.m.

Police Chief George Rampey introduced new Code Enforcement Officer Jamison Hammond, who has been working with the local 911 center to get addresses correct. Rampey said Hammond was the former police chief of Rockford, Alabama and also obtained experience in code enforcement there.