Hearing on increasing property taxes cancelled

Published 9:55 pm Friday, February 9, 2018

A hearing to discuss raising property taxes in Selma has been cancelled.

The decision was made by the Selma City Council Thursday night during a work session. The hearing was scheduled to be held Monday, Feb. 12 at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center.

“Due to the fact that the legislature is already in session, there won’t be time to get a proclamation passed by them to put it in the hands of the people, so at this juncture, I’m going to take it off the table and cancel the public hearing,” said Councilman Johnnie Leashore.

Leashore, head of the council’s administrative committee, who was hosting the hearing, said the idea will be revisited at a later time.

Tamekia Sykes, the council’s administrative assistant, sent out a public notice Friday afternoon letting people know the hearing has been officially cancelled.

During the work session, Councilman Carl Bowline suggested addressing the issue after a budget is approved.

“At this juncture, I don’t think this council has the courage,” Leashore said.

“I understand that feeling, Mr. Leashore, but I do think that the citizens have been pretty clear … I think the only thing the citizens have asked us to do is to go back and show them where we have savings and where our needs are,” Bowline responded.

“I think if we go through here and vet this budget, it’s going to take courage. It’s going to take a lot of courage. If we go through there and do that, it can be reapproached with the citizens because we’ll have the clarity of having a budget that’s operational, lean and mean.”

The council started exploring the idea of raising property taxes in November of last year to generate more revenue for the city.

Council members have said during discussions the added revenue will be earmarked for raises for the police and fire departments, capital equipment and infrastructure.

Bowline said if they approach the idea of raising ad valorem taxes by dollar amounts rather than the millage rate, more people might buy into it.

“If we look at giving an example of what the dollar increase would be … that’s easier to digest than mils because a lot of folks don’t understand what those are,” Bowline said.

The city has a current millage rate of 27, which is 12th highest in the state. The council has proposed increasing the rate to 37, 42 or 47.

Raising the property tax would require a vote of the people of Selma.