Mayor weighs in on sales tax increase with Rotary Club of Jasper
by James Phillips
Jan 09, 2013 | 1914 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey talks with Arc of Walker County Director Lou Vick Tuesday after speaking at the Rotary Club of Jasper. – Photo by: James Phillips.
Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey talks with Arc of Walker County Director Lou Vick Tuesday after speaking at the Rotary Club of Jasper. – Photo by: James Phillips.
The 1 percent sales tax increase approved earlier in the day by the Jasper City Council proved to be the highlight of Mayor Sonny Posey’s “state of the city” address to the Rotary Club of Jasper Tuesday afternoon.

“A new or increased tax of any kind is never a welcomed or desirable occurrence, and this one is no different,” Posey said. “What makes this addition to our sales tax rate more acceptable, at least in my mind, is the fact that the city will be pledging the full one percent to repay a bond to construct a new high school for our city.”

Posey said the city would pledge the full amount but not necessarily spend the full amount for that purpose. He said a total pledge of 1.5 percent of total sales tax proceeds will be required by the city to obtain the lowest rates and make the bond sale more appealing when it happens.

Estimates for a new school have been as high as $63 million, but Posey said he hopes the school and surrounding athletic facilities can be built for around $53 million. If a school can be built near that number, Posey estimated the annual yearly obligation at between $2.7 and $3.1 million.

“Total proceeds from the increase of 1 percent will typically produce just over $4 million per year,” Posey said. “The differential will allow for possible increases to the total project costs should they in all likelihood occur and a cushion in the event of another economic downtown.”

Posey pledged that he and members of the council will work hand-in-hand with the Jasper City Board of Education and Superintendent Robert Sparkman on the project.

“That is not because we are concerned about their ability to do this, but rather because we feel like our citizens expect us to be fully immersed,” he said. “We will be committing your tax dollars; therefore, we have an obligation to see to it that you receive full value for those dollars.”

The new school, as well as current elementary and middle schools, will be a centerpiece of the community, Posey added.

“Our schools are and will be a focal point and a source of great pride for you, your children, your grandchildren and everyone who calls our city home,” he said.

Posey also touched on the future of industrial and retail growth in the city.

“Things are moving along nicely at the Bevill Industrial Park — I’m sure you’ve seen the new Amtex construction progressing nicely, and Fontaine (Trailer Company) is adding jobs for a new product they are building in Jasper,” he said. “On the retail front, negotiations continue on several projects along Highway 118, and we are hopeful about being able to make announcements soon.”

The upcoming Cracker Barrel location on Interstate 22 is still moving forward, Posey added.

He said property adjacent to the Carl Cannon automobile dealership has been purchased by the restaurant but no timetable has been released for when construction will begin.

“It is their loss. If they knew how much money they are missing out on, they would have picks and shovels on that property today,” Posey said.

The mayor also mentioned funding for paving projects that the city could receive in the future.

“We are working on a deal with the county to get funding for paving,” he said. “All the earmarks that were in Montgomery have been lost, but that money will still be available.”

Posey said a portion of Airport Road, from the Highway 118 interchange to the Woodland Hills area, has been funded for work, but the remainder of the road to Highway 257 does not have funding.

“If we can secure these funds, that’s a project that will be at the top of the list.”