Sales tax switch leads to confusion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 25, 2003

That was City Treasurer Cynthia Mitchell addressing the City Council at its regular Monday night session.

Mitchell was explaining why sales tax figures for November were off nearly 75 percent.

According to Mitchell, about $700,000 to $800,000 is received by Selma each month in sales taxes. This month has only netted about $213,000 &045; and the city has only seen about $93,000 of that.

Mitchell said the discrepancy likely occurred because the city recently switched its tax collecting agencies from the state of Alabama to Alatax, a private company.

The council recently voted to change its sales tax collecting company. Councilman Glenn Sexton proposed the switch.

Mitchell noted that the city’s tax and license department had received numerous calls from local businesses that were confused about where to send the monies. Businesses received a letter stating they would begin sending Alatax their sales tax in October, but the forms were &uot;confusing,&uot; according to Mitchell.

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said she thought the process would be easier once Alatax began collecting the city’s sales tax. Turning to Sexton, she remarked, &uot;You tell us where our money is.&uot;

Mitchell said sales tax revenue might be held by the state, but added that Alatax was responsible for ensuring merchants knew where to send the money.

The city collected $738,352.77 in sales tax for November 2002. It’s collected $93,635.99 for November 2003.

In other matters the council:

Entered an executive session. Councilwoman Nancy Sewell made the motion to enter the executive session near the end of the council’s marathon four-hour long meeting. Councilwoman Rita Sims Franklin seconded the motion. The vote passed eight to zero. Councilman B.L. Tucker wasn’t present.

According to Council President George Evans, the council entered the executive session to discuss good name and character. When asked whose good name and character would be discussed, Evans replied, &uot;I don’t know that. It’s dealing with an employee of the city.&uot;

Mayor James Perkins Jr. said the executive session was called to listen to comments from Selma Police Department officers about an internal investigation. Perkins declined to name who was being investigated.

Lt. Susan Smith, detective Sgt. Jimmy Martin and Assistant Chief Robert Jacobs were present for the executive session, as was Personnel Director Valeria Jones.

Prior to the session, Perkins said he couldn’t release the report’s initial findings because the investigation wasn’t complete.

Heard from Perkins, who announced a second town hall meeting on crime for Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center. &uot;If you recall, 500 citizens attended the first meeting,&uot; Perkins said.

Voted unanimously in favor of paying Enhanced 911 employees $4,291.92. The money was owed the employees, who were city employees but now work for the county, for holiday work completed earlier this year. Jones noted that the city was required to pay the employees.

Voted unanimously in favor of giving city employees Dec. 25 and 26 off.