Committee discusses proposed occupational tax

Updated: Jan. 14, 2020 at 6:45 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A committee made up of members of the Montgomery city council met Tuesday to discuss a proposed occupational tax.

If passed, anyone who works within the Montgomery city limits would pay the tax.

There was no vote Tuesday. More committee meetings are scheduled.

Councilman Glen Pruitt is spearheading the effort. He says he would like the additional revenue to be used to increase the salaries of those in public safety. He believes Montgomery should pay its police officers and firefighters more than any other city in the state. He suggests a starting salary of $50,000.

Tuesday’s meeting was held to assess the needs surrounding public safety.

Montgomery’s police and fire chiefs presented wishlists to the committee.

Montgomery Fire/Rescue proposed closing two fire stations – Station 7 on Fairview Ave. and Station 10 on Rosa Parks Ave. - and building a new, larger facility on South Court Street.

Police Chief Finley also made a request for more money and personnel so MPD can have two officers per unit.

“What today’s meeting was about is looking at our Public Safety Department to see what it would take to make us the highest-paid Public Safety Department in the state of Alabama. What you heard today is we’re woefully understaffed, woefully underpaid. We got a lot of police officers and firemen that are having to work part-time or overtime to make ends meet for our city,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt pointed out that this will be a long process.

The committee will report back to the city council. The council will then make a decision.

The next committee meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 21. The topic will be community centers.

A number of Alabama cities have already implemented occupational taxes, including Auburn, Opelika and Birmingham. According the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, Montgomery brings in less tax revenue per capita than almost any other major city in the state.

For someone who makes $50,000 a year, the proposed 1 percent tax would amount to $500 per year.

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