Local reaction easy to get on tax news

Posted 3/8/17

Let’s clean out the notebook ....

• Needless to say, we have heard plenty of reaction to the various taxes being thrown around. I am hearing there is some concern about Jasper’s new gas …

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Local reaction easy to get on tax news


Let’s clean out the notebook ....

• Needless to say, we have heard plenty of reaction to the various taxes being thrown around. I am hearing there is some concern about Jasper’s new gas tax, but I am not hearing much of that personally. In fact, I overheard someone say the need was so great it should have been increased another penny. (I doubt that is the majority opinion!) I do imagine that the gas situation will die down quickly; Jasper’s gasoline will still be much lower than what drivers see in Marion County, for example. It is almost required that drivers from there coming to or through Jasper stop to get gas to get the savings.

Meanwhile, there is the proposed county sales tax increase. (The county says they don’t have any tax for themselves, but they do have two cents — it’s just dedicated to education, so technically voters would see an increase.) I can tell you that the Walker County Commission feels that they will have to work hard for it, but some feel cautiously optimistic about their chances.

That is not what I am hearing from the public. They are more optimistic of convincing President Trump to quit Twitter than they are of this tax passing. I think it may fall to the fact they don’t want to pay a higher sales tax, as sales tax affects almost everything you buy, as well as trust over whether there is waste.

Commissioners shouldn’t feel bad because that is probably a universal feeling you could get all across Alabama. I think they will have to mount quite a campaign to show what they have done, where they are at, how it compares favorably to other counties and what will happen if the tax doesn’t pass. And on that last point, they will have to earn trust that they are not whistling Dixie when they say that is what will happen.

• For that matter, I saw a lot of response on that gun permit bill that state Rep. Connie Rowe is on the fence on. It is clear that some of the supporters of gun rights will not be happy if she votes in favor of keeping gun permits for concealed weapons and the fees that go with them. At the same time, it would be interesting how law enforcement would cope without the gun permits. Look for that issue to be heated if it comes up for a vote — although I would not be surprised if it didn’t. Personally, it is not so much about the money to me as it is whether it would hurt law enforcement to keep up with the ability to track gun owners and to detain the bad guys who do not have a permit, while still allowing people to own a gun.

• I’ve had a good time visiting churches recently in Jasper, partly to find a church and partly to reconnect with the spiritual scene in town. I was surprised how much Desperation Church has grown at the Jasper Civic Center. As I understood it, they’ve had 800 people to join and have two services a morning; even the early service had a good crowd. I enjoyed the Ash Wednesday service at the First United Methodist Church (I have missed that architecture, I admit), and I’ve enjoyed reconnecting at First Baptist Church and Northside Baptist Church, which seem more blended now in their services than I remember as far as worship music. (Every Southern Baptist church now seems to have their own drum set, with First Baptist having its own drum cage for the right muted effect.) I am hoping to visit more, including some outside of Jasper, perhaps even after I decide on a church. Right now, I am letting God lead the way — He pretty much did that with the job, so I’ve decided to let him point the way for church.

• A belated Happy Jack Benny Day to Publisher James Phillips, who marked his 39th birthday this week. He was instrumental in getting me to come back, and I am grateful — but that doesn’t mean I give him slack. He showed up to the Jasper Rotary Club’s Trivia Night dressed up in a purple Mardi Gras costume, complete with cape and hat. I told him it looked like the coroner Munchkin in the “Wizard of Oz” had a growth spurt. Obviously, he’s a pretty good sport.

• Winfield had the biggest blaze it has seen in a while with a Saturday, March 4, fire at the unused portion of the old Winfield Cotton Mill. The Journal Record said six local fire departments worked for 12 hours putting out a huge blaze, saving the 70 jobs in the part of the facility that was being used by three companies. Those companies opened for business the following Monday. But it was a huge hit to the city’s heritage.

• Speaking of Winfield, I recently enjoyed having lunch with Jasper Mayor David O’Mary, a Winfield native. Without going into details, he seems very interested in getting jobs for the city and looking at the region in terms of planning economic development. I think he will do fine in the position and seems on first glance to have a good handle on things.

• I ran into Oakman Mayor Cory Franks at a local restaurant this week and got to say hi quickly, but I felt guilty that it was on the quick. I will say that I have been busier than I expected in my first days at the Daily Mountain Eagle. I usually make a grand tour of towns and offices in a county that I have moved to, and I have hardly had time to do that. I am interested in getting to meet some of you, and I want desperately to make time to get to know you. Some of you may want to speed things up by calling me or coming by the Eagle, and that’s fine, too. And, of course, we’re certainly interested in news tips.

Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s news editor.