Committee focuses on community centers in second occupational tax meeting

Committee meets about proposed occupational tax

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Another committee meeting has been held by members of the Montgomery city council to discuss a proposed occupational tax, and the latest meeting focused on how an occupational tax would benefit area community centers.

There are currently 17 community centers, two senior centers, and a single therapeutic center in Montgomery. Seven of the community centers are used by Montgomery Public Schools but are not available for after-school events

The Montgomery Parks and Recreation Department is still suffering from budget cuts that happened when the economy was down. It currently has an $18 million budget, but more than 80 percent of the money is dedicated to salaries and other needs.

Parks and Rec is said to be about 25 people short of being able to allow for more things to go on at the community centers, including later times to be open.

The department is excited about a pre-K program that will allow the Y to use their facilities in Carriage Hills after 3 p.m., but there are transportation issues for students to get to the facilities. The department would like to take some older buses and convert them into classrooms and bring after school programs to area neighborhoods.

Officials would also like to have a team center with gaming rooms homework rooms and a place just to hang out, perhaps at the former Floyd Magnet School or community center.

There are also desires to grow the therapeutic center, which is currently in an old building that needs extensive repairs.

The Parks are Recreation Department brings in about 900,000 a year for sporting events, with 65 volleyball teams being in town in just the past weekend. But many of its facilities are in need of repair or at least sprucing up.

A number of Alabama cities have already implemented occupational taxes, including Auburn, Opelika, and Birmingham. According to 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.

The committee previously discussed the effects such a tax would have on those working in public safety. In the next meeting, set for Jan. 28, the committee will focus on a third area it says could see improvements from an occupational tax: Roads.

Councilman Glen Pruitt is spearheading the effort. Once the committee has finished its work, it will report back to the city council, which will then be tasked with making a decision.

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