LaFayette council discusses potential tax increase, rate adjustments

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, November 6, 2021

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The LaFayette City Council held a work session Thursday to discuss a potential one cent sales tax adjustment and other potential rate adjustments.

What everyone agreed on was that the city needs more money than it’s getting. Some expressed concerns that citizens would be upset at increases in the sales tax and rates for services.

According to City Clerk Louis Davidson, the current sales tax in LaFayette is 9 percent. Alabama gets 4 percent, Chambers County gets 1 percent, and the remaining 4 percent goes to the city.

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“I think that this city has supplied services that a city 10 times its size provides,” said City Attorney Joseph (Mac) Tucker. “It’s doing it on a skeletal budget. You’re either going to have to change the services that the city provides, or you’re going to have to raise revenue.”

LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines argued that he and the council could do something for the city or sit idle for the next four years.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m just going to be honest with you,” he said. “I didn’t go through no sweat, I didn’t go through no hardship just to sit here for four years and not do nothing. That’s personally coming from me. … I care about this city. I love this city. I was born and raised here, and I’ll die here. The thing is, I’ve been here long enough that I want to see some change, myself to get this city up and going. The bottom line, and the bottom dollar is it takes money to run a city.”

Concerned citizen Anna Troxell suggested increasing rates for services a little bit at a time, to which City Clerk Louis Davidson responded that small increases won’t work fast enough.

“Now we’re in a situation where if you really want to balance individual funds, and I’m just going to be frank with you, small increases aren’t going to do it,” he said. “If we go up a dollar on garbage rates or a dollar on water rates, we’re no longer 100 steps behind; we’re 99 steps behind.”

Councilman T. Shannon Hunter pointed out the problem of inflation.

“But you’re dealing with a 5 percent inflation rate right now,” he said. “So, going up a dollar or two dollars isn’t even going to cover that.”

Hunter said increasing rates has been postponed for almost 20 years.

“And somehow, you need to get caught up,” he said. “And you can’t get caught up going a dollar or two at a time.”

“We keep wanting to be in last place for some reason,” said Councilman Terry Mangram. “Why? I don’t understand. … It takes finances. The other towns and cities are not sitting back and saying, ‘Oh, in a few years, it’ll happen.’ They’re making moves to increase their income at whatever rate changes or anything they have to do.”

Mangram expressed his concern that regardless of whether they would like a tax increase or not, more LaFayette citizens ought to show up to city council meetings.

Hunter said the current meeting hadn’t been well publicized.

Tucker said that when Kardoes Rubber Co. left LaFayette, the net loss to the city was about $400,000 per year. He said a lot of the city’s financial troubles have to do with that loss.

The council planned to discuss the one cent sales tax increase and cemetery lot fees at the upcoming meeting on Monday.