TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) - The Tallassee City Council has approved two tax changes in an effort to improve the city's infrastructure and provide additional funding to local schools.
Approval was given for a one percent sales tax increase for the Elmore County portion of Tallassee. The city is split between Elmore and Tallapoosa counties. Mayor Johnny Hammock said about 70 percent of the city's sales tax revenue comes from the Elmore County portion.
Businesses on the city's Tallapoosa County side already charge a 10 percent sales tax. The one percent increase for the Elmore County businesses would make the two sides on par with each other.
Also greenlighted was an ad valorem property tax for all Tallassee residents, something the city currently doesn't have. The approved tax is for 5 mills, so a homeowner whose property is appraised at $100,000 will pay $50 in ad valorem tax.
Click here for information on how to calculate that tax amount from the Alabama Department of Revenue.
Hammock said the city hopes both tax changes will bring in about $1 million annually. That money will be split between schools and infrastructure. Hammock said he anticipates about $650,000 coming in for infrastructure, which he admits is not enough to meet the need.
"Oh, it's an astronomical amount," the mayor said of what's needed. "Millions and millions of dollars, but you've got to start somewhere."
As mayor, Hammock said his responsibilities include serving as the superintendent of the city's utilities services.
"I spend probably about half my time dealing with water, gas, and sewer. I've taken the time to educate myself and find out just how bad the infrastructure is."
Hammock said a lot of the issues are due to aging materials, while other issues are new. In March, one of the city's five $80,000 water filters broke down, leaving the city with only 80 percent of its resources to provide clean water to its customers, which include many residents.
Hammock said he has also received pressure from the state to update the city's outdated sewage system.
"We have a consent order with ADEM on our sewer system," Hammock said. He added if the city cannot show the first-phase of improvements by 2020, the state will likely come in and take over its sewage operations, a move that would hurt the city financially.
Despite infrastructure being a major concern, Hammock said he is hopeful, calling the council "aggressive" when it comes to writing grant proposals for a number of city projects. While he said the sewage lagoon and water filter plant are his top priority, he believes the city will move forward with a number of projects as the funds become available.
Amy Glass, whose family has owned businesses in Tallassee for more than 60 years, said she supports the sales tax increase. The gas station she runs sits on the Elmore County side of the city and will be impacted by the one percent increase.
"I think it's great if it will help the city," Glass said. "Anything that will help the city, I'm all for it."
Glass said she is aware other local business owners may not feel the same way. "You have to look at the whole picture," she explained.
Hammock said he expects the sales tax increase to take effect this summer, once the proper protocol of notifying businesses and residents is complete. He said the ad valorem tax will begin in October with the new fiscal year.?