Most cities to participate in sales tax holiday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2008

By AMY GORDON / Staff Writer

Out of the county, five communities will not participate in the sales tax holiday. Chelsea, Westover, Vincent, Wilton and Harpersville chose not to participate in this year’s holiday, which is August 1-3.

During the holiday, there will be no state sales tax on certain articles of clothing, computer supplies, school supplies or books. Communities that choose not to participate will still charge a local sales tax on those items during the holiday.

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven said the city council decided not to participate in the sales tax holiday because members believed the schools could better use the money.

“We believe that the help is needed in the classroom. We make a $5,000 donation to each school to divide among the classrooms,” Niven said.

The city makes donations to their schools at the beginning of the school year so that the money is available for schools to use immediately, he said.

Niven said while a few Chelsea businesses have expressed wishes that the city would participate in the sales tax holiday, he hasn’t heard any complaints from citizens.

“We’ll do an analysis this year,” he said. “But I think our classrooms can use that money more than me going to the store and saving a dollar or two.”

Chelsea is the largest community not to participate in the sales tax holiday.

The other four – Westover, Vincent, Wilton and Harpersville – cited their lack of businesses as the reason not to participate.

Westover Mayor Mark McLaughlin said his community doesn’t have a large enough retail base to participate right now, but that could change in the coming years.

“The base is just now beginning to grow. To this point, it really hasn’t made enough sense for us to look at it,” he said. “But, going forward, we’ll probably start looking at it. We’ve got a couple of retail spaces now.”

McLaughlin said he has heard no complaints about Westover not participating in the holiday.

“Because of the youth of our town, it really didn’t affect us. Now we’re beginning to grow,” he said.

The other communities in the county will all participate in the sales tax holiday.

That list includes: Alabaster, Pelham, Columbiana, Montevallo, Helena, Calera, Wilsonville and Hoover.

Tom Seale, finance director for Pelham, said the down economy was a good reason to participate in the holiday.

“This is our second year to participate and, in these economic times, it’s an opportunity to allow the public to forego sales tax,” he said. “It brings people out to the shops, and it generates additional sales tax while they’re purchasing other items.”

Pelham City Clerk Donna Treslar said there is no evidence yet whether communities lose money if they participate in the holiday.

She said most of the lost tax revenue appears to be made up by the extra non-exempt purchases people make while shopping for back-to-school clothes and supplies