City of Alabaster approves sales tax increase

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – The city of Alabaster has approved a 1-cent sales tax increase that will generate funds to support future capital projects.

The Alabaster City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to increase the city’s sales tax from 9 cents to 10 cents during a city council meeting on Monday, Feb. 27. The council voted after a public hearing in which citizens voiced their approval or disapproval of the resolution.

During the meeting, Mayor Scott Brakefield said with a 1-cent sales tax increase, the city can generate about $7 million in revenue.

Brakefield also provided a breakdown of the city’s planned projects, dubbed the “Alabaster Fast Forward” program, that would benefit from the tax increase.

“This is completely to meet the needs and desires of our residents,” Brakefield said. “For years, Alabaster City Schools has been meeting the needs of young families in our community, and this will allow the city to follow suit. With this additional funding, we will be able to construct a new library and address numerous transportation, recreation, health safety and quality of life issues for our residents.”

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, residents came forward to express their approval or disapproval of the proposed amendment.

“I got to tell you mayor, I love your vision, I love the planning,” Fred Ross said. “But what I don’t love is the tax. For the first time in a long time, when I go to the grocery store, I’m seeing families with their kids in there with a calculator just counting up what they can and can’t buy because they’re strapped. Let’s let the economy settle down. Let’s let the inflation settle down, and then we can move forward again.”

Kimberly McCain also came before the council to express her disapproval of the proposed amendment.

“The inflation rate is painful,” she said. “It’s caused everything to go up in my life just like everybody else. My income goes up but not as fast as the inflation rate. The only thing keeping up with the inflation rate is the tax rate. I do think sometimes that the city is making improvements a little bit faster than their citizens can make improvements in their personal lives.”

Jason Ruha addressed the city council in favor of the proposed amendment.

“I’m going to give the city of Alabaster my hard-earned pennies to help with infrastructure, help build a new rec. center, library and other projects that will make Alabaster a wonderful and beautiful place for its residents,” he said.

Susan Leah Harchelroad addressed the council in support of the amendment.

“I do support these projects,” she said. “Parks are extremely important for children and youth, giving them an opportunity to do constructive activities. I especially like the proposed monitoring system to learn when trains are on track because I invariably am going to work and have to turn around and am late.”

After the council received input from those in support and against the amendment, it unanimously voted to approve the sales tax increase.

“Everything we’ve done since I’ve been on the council has started with a vision, an idea,” Council President Sophie Martin said. “When I look at the plan that the mayor is proposing, to me it reflects everybody in the city. It will impact everybody in the city not just a certain group.

“If everybody looks out as those projects start with this council tonight, it’s not only going to change the face of the city but it’s going to positively impact the residents who live here and it’s going to continue to make our city a desirable place for people to come and to raise a family.”

Councilmember Kerri Pate provided her reasoning for voting yes on the resolution.

“I ran for the first time in 2016 and when I knocked on thousands of doors and spoke to so many people they would ask me what my vision was and I did not make any bones about it,” she said. “It was the youth, it was what we had to offer­—what we wanted our city to look like when people are looking at somewhere to move and raise their family, like I chose to do, what do I want it to look like?

“I proudly voted yes on it tonight. Yes, it will affect me. I have three children, two in college. But it will affect our community for years to come, positively.”

Several councilmembers expressed that the ambulatory service was a significant factor in their decision to approve the amendment.

“For me, the public safety piece of this was the most important thing,” Councilmember Jamie Cole said. “One of our residents spoke tonight about a family member that had to wait so long on an ambulance that it made a difference. My number one priority is to make sure our firefighters and first responders have what they need, and I felt like this was something that they needed.”