Calera discusses new special event vendor sales tax ordinance

Published 6:41 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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CALERA – The Calera City Council discussed many upcoming changes at the recent regularly scheduled city council meeting on Monday, May 6, including a new tax program for special event vendors and whether to pass an ordinance to keep the mayor as a voting member of the council.

When vendors from outside the city come to Calera for a special event such as the strawberry festival or First Friday, they are required to remit their sales tax to the city of Calera for any money they made while operating in Calera.

“What (the city) has been having a problem with in the past is that we may not be getting money that was collected at some of these festivals and events and that (money) may not have made it to our coffers, to the city,” Mayor Jon Graham said.

According to Calera’s Finance Director Kelly Ellison, the city has created a new way for special event vendors to report their sales at Calera events by creating an app.

“I wanted to make it easy for these vendors to follow,” Ellison said. “What we’ve created is an app. Literally in just a minute, they can go on there and report their sales and actually pay the taxes on the app.”

When vendors agree to participate in special events in Calera, they will have to register on the app. After the event, the vendors will have seven days to tally their sales and report back to the city.

According to Ellison, any vendors that fail to remit their taxes will be prohibited from returning and participating in future special events. If they want to register for an event in the future, they will be contacted and given the opportunity to pay what they owe.

When the council provided the opportunity for the audience to voice their opinions on the plan, Dennis Torrealba from Main Street shared that he agrees with the new program.

“We definitely love it,” Torrealba said. “We’re going to support Kelly and trying to make sure that the people that come to the events adhere to their participation in paying taxes.”

This program will only apply to events that are designated as special events by the Calera City Council. The Council will vote on the special event sales tax remittance ordinance at the next council meeting on Monday, May 20.

In addition, the City Council discussed an upcoming decision they will have to reach about whether or not to continue with their current government structure with the mayor as a voting member or to transition to a new structure with the mayor as a non-voting member.

According to Calera City Attorney Grace Graham, when a city reaches 25,000 inhabitants in a federal census, mayors can no longer remain voting members of city councils. But when cities reach 12,000 inhabitants, the city has the option to either keep the mayor as a voting member or switch to the mayor as a non-voting member.

“The legislature allows you to make a decision to remain as a council-mayor form of government where the mayor is actually voting member, at least until you reach 25,000 (people) and then you have no choice about it,” Grace Graham said.

In the 2020 decennial federal census, the city of Calera clocked in at 16,494 people, above that 12,000 marker. Now, the Calera City Council will have to decide how to proceed in regards to voting power in the council.