Pelham approves sales tax increase at Aug. 21 meeting

Published 7:59 pm Monday, August 21, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The city of Pelham officially approved raising its sales tax by one cent at a regularly-scheduled City Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 21.

The ordinance was officially passed 3-2 with city councilmembers David Coram and Mildred Lanier voting against the tax increase.

With the approval, Pelham’s sales tax will increase from 9 percent to 10 percent, but several city councilmembers, including Maurice Mercer and Leverett, have voiced their desire that the tax be revisited every year to see if the increase is still necessary.

“I just wanted to voice that I’m in favor of the increase,” Pelham City Councilmember Chad Leverett said. “But I want to point out that it’s due to the finances that we have currently. We’re either going to have to look at increasing our taxes or reducing the fire and police department budgets.”

The last time the city raised its sales tax was back in 2013, when it was raised by 1 percent and used to provide funding for Pelham City Schools.

However, Pelham has not raised taxes to pay for city infrastructure or expenses since 2001. According to city officials, the goal of this tax increase will be used to pay for city infrastructure such as roads, the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena and traffic signal upgrades among other things to help the city.

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

Earlier this month, on Monday, Aug. 7, the City Council held a public hearing to allow concerned Pelham citizens a chance to voice their concerns regarding the new sales tax. Only one resident, Tom Robinson, spoke out against the new sales tax and requested that the Council wait a year and try to cut expenses rather than further tax Pelham’s citizens. 

“I think the tax increase is going to help the city and is going to help us to move forward, Councilmember Rick Wash said. “You know we’re faced with some trying times with both our police and our emergency services and upgrades that we made for both personnel and equipment. And unfortunately, those things cost money.”

A number of citizens spoke out against the tax increase after it was officially passed, but the City Council remained resolute in their decision.

“We’re stewards of your money,” Leverett said. “When we make decisions on how to spend the money, I always want to make sure that it’s in the best interest for the city of Pelham. I am committed to seeing in the future, if I’m still on this council, how we can lower that tax or take it all back once we get some of these projects (roads, emergency services and other infrastructure) completed.

The move comes on the heels of neighboring city Alabaster also increasing its sales tax from 9 percent to 10 percent earlier this year.