Pelham holds a public hearing to discuss sales tax increase

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – With the city of Pelham looking at voting on a sales tax increase this month, a public hearing was held on Monday, Aug. 7 to get feedback from residents.

Should the increase go into effect, it would be the first time the city’s sales tax has increased since 2013, an increase that led to generated revenue going to Pelham City Schools.

However, the city hasn’t raised the sales tax for city infrastructure since 2001, which led to the proposal from the city council and Mayor Gary Waters.

“We need additional infrastructure and maintenance funds for our assets,” Waters said. “And I want you to consider this as soon as we have some infrastructure that other cities don’t have.”

Waters cited the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena, Ballantrae Golf Club and Pelham’s roads as just a few of the pieces of city infrastructure that would benefit from the additional funding. Waters also noted that there is never a good time to ask for a tax increase, but he supports the proposal as it will allow Pelham greater room to grow and develop. 

Pelham City Finance Director Jamie Wagner had the chance to discuss the reasoning behind the sales tax increase. She noted that cities in Alabama are restricted in the ways they can raise revenue, either by the increase of sales or property tax. 

Wagner finished by stating that should Pelham choose to raise sales tax in the city by one cent it would place them in line with peer cities throughout Shelby and Jefferson counties such as Alabaster and Chelsea. 

After the city council’s discussion on the sales tax increase, the floor was opened to the public to share their thoughts on the proposal.

The sole Pelham resident who took the floor was a man named Tom Robinson, who voiced his opinion that the entire hearing was merely an administrative obligation and that the city council had already made up their minds. He requested that the city wait a year and see if money could be raised by cutting back on certain expenses or attempting to bring more residents into the city.  

“Then come back and sell us on what the city’s done,” Robinson said. “Try cutting expenses, promoting and marketing through the commercial development authority to bring more business and make more volume and tax revenue. That way, inflation is clobbering all of us. Please don’t put this on our backs. Sell the advantages of Pelham and then come back and tell us this is what your CDs tried to do for the past year. And here’s our shortfall. We need your help. Maybe we only go up nine and a half.”

Currently, the sales tax within the city of Pelham is 9 percent. Five percent of this is directed towards the state and Shelby County, and one percent is allocated to Pelham City Schools. The remaining three percent is utilized in different projects throughout the city. Should the sales tax increase, it would be raised to 10 percent.

The vote by the city council to determine if the 1-cent sales tax increase will pass is set to take place during the City Council meeting on Aug. 21.