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Chelsea Council to hold April 2 public hearing for sales tax increase

Published 3:01pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – The Chelsea City Council will hold a public hearing April 2 to give residents an opportunity to discuss a proposed one-cent sales tax increase.

The hearing will take place during the council’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. at Chelsea City Hall.

During a March 19 council work session, Mayor Earl Niven said the sales tax increase would generate about $100,000 per month, and the revenue would fund capital projects such as a community center and the purchase of 423 acres of land for a sports complex.

The council originally discussed purchasing 323 acres of land, but unanimously decided to purchase the property’s entire 423 acres. The additional property could be used for walking and biking trails.

Niven said he submitted a letter to Pelham Mayor Gary Waters to begin the process to de-annex the property, which is located behind Chelsea High School, from the city of Pelham.

“How far are we into this if the people say no?” Councilwoman Juanita Champion asked Niven.

“We haven’t signed the contract (for the land purchase),” Niven said. “I would be very surprised if we got negative feedback on this. If the community says we don’t want sales tax for capital projects, we don’t have much to plan for.

“We can sit here and carry on as is, or we can have a vision of where were going and work to get there,” he added.

Councilman Tony Picklesimer said about 40 percent of those using Chelsea’s athletic and community facilities actually live within Chelsea city limits.

“If (the tax increase) was only for ball fields, and I have two young kids, I wouldn’t consider it,” said Councilwoman Alison Moore Nichols. “We have to meet greater needs than ourselves. It would provide financial security for the infrastructure of our community to support itself.”

The city also has committed to other capital projects, such as paving King’s Home Road, building tennis courts on Shelby County 51 and redesigning the intersection of Shelby County 47 and Shelby County 39 in front of City Hall.

During the City Council meeting, the council approved the $55,000 purchase of two transport vehicles from the town of Harpersville. Chelsea Fire and Rescue currently has a 2008 transport, but will use the purchased 2003 and 2007 vehicles as well.

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