Jed Daniel, newly-elected council member for District 1, said he has been concerned about increasing any taxes since he was installed into office in early November.
The city council is expected to vote today on whether or not to raise sales tax by either 1 percent or 1.25 percent, which were the amounts introduced by District 3 council member Gary Cowen at the group’s Dec. 18 meeting. The tax increase would primarily be used to build a new Walker High School.
Daniel said he doesn’t think the tax increase is what is best for the city “at the current moment.”
“As many citizens can attest, we are not currently in a prospering economical state,” Daniel said. “Considering most Americans are now facing a reinstated 2 percent increase in payroll deductions, I do not believe now is the time to put even more expenses on the backs of taxpayers.”
Another concern Daniel had was who would supervise the construction of the school.
“I am a firm believer that if we are to enter a project as large as building a new school by increasing citizens’ taxes, we should do so cautiously,” he said. “That being said, if we are to construct, the project should be under city council supervision with an oversight ensuring that our funds are properly utilized — not merely under the (school) superintendent’s supervision.”
Daniel suggested the city consider raising taxes by only .5 percent to help raise operating funds for the city. Daniel also said he is not opposed to a new school in the future.
“Perhaps if we were patient enough to wait a year or two, we could step out of the clouds and focus on doing this project correctly,” he said. “A project as important as this, that will affect our lives, and more importantly, the lives of our children, should be given more detailed thought than it has received from the school board, the superintendent and even the city council.”
Daniel said he has been contacted by numerous citizens concerned over the tax increase. He suggested the city should possibly hold a vote for an increased property tax to pay for the new school.
Dale Reeves, the District 2 representative on the Walker County Board of Education, contacted the Daily Mountain Eagle Monday to express his concern over the possible sales tax hike.
“I’m not opposed to the idea, but I think the money from the tax increase needs to be shared with the county school system,” Reeves said.
Reeves said shoppers from outside Jasper will account for a large portion of the revenue generated from a sales tax increase.
“I live outside the city, but I come to Jasper to buy groceries and eat out and do most anything,” Reeves said. “I just believe the county should get a part of it since we will be paying into it.”
The Jasper City Council is expected to vote on the possible sales tax increase at 10 a.m. today during its meeting on the second floor at Jasper City Hall.