Pelham leaders looking to discuss tax raise with businesses

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Some Pelham leaders said they are looking to discuss a proposed sales tax increase with city business owners during an upcoming business council meeting at the Pelham Civic Complex.

The Pelham City Council originally considered suspending the rules of order to vote on the 1-cent sales tax increase during its July 15 meeting. However, the council only held the ordinance’s first reading after some city leaders said they were not yet ready to vote on the matter.

“On the 23rd, we’re having another business council meeting, and I’d like to at least bounce it off them,” Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said during the July 15 pre-meeting work session.

The business council meeting is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on July 23 at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena. Pelham leaders have had two previous business council meetings, drawing about 65 and 85 business owners, respectively.

If passed, the 1-cent sales tax increase would generate between $4.8 million-$5 million per year to feed a Pelham education fund. The school fund could only be spent on educational items defined by the council.

During the July 15 work session, some council members suggested voting on the tax increase the same night to allow the 1-cent increase to go into effect at the beginning of September.

If the tax went into effect for September, it would generate about $450,000 for the education fund before the city’s new fiscal year begins in October, according to City Council President Rick Hayes.

During a July 15 public hearing on the proposed tax increase, Three M Karts and Mowers owner Mike Harris said the tax increase would place his business at a competitive disadvantage compared to cities such as Argo and Bessemer.

Roberto Rodriguez, the owner of the Pelham-based Trash Taxi service, said he supported the sales tax, and encouraged business owners to attend the upcoming business council meeting.

“We have to continue to promote open dialogue,” said Councilman Maurice Mercer.