Montgomery city council votes to adopt occupational tax

Updated: Feb. 18, 2020 at 6:32 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery City Council has voted to adopt an ordinance implementing the Montgomery Occupational License Code. The council voted 5 to 3 in favor of the new tax.

City council held a public hearing Tuesday to consider the adoption of the tax, which requires anyone working within the Montgomery city limits pay a one percent tax. To put that into perspective, for a person who makes $50,000 a year, a one percent tax amounts to $500.

Councilman Glen Pruitt, who spearheaded the effort, says he wants the additional revenue to increase the salaries of public safety employees, suggesting a starting salary of $50,000. After tonight’s meeting, the original proposal that called for most of the money to go to public safety could also be used for other things, including education and new infrastructure.

The public hearing began with a statement from Mayor Steven Reed about the need for the tax and the importance of local decision making.

“If we want Montgomery to improve its schools, created safety and security in our neighborhoods, and provide opportunities for all other citizens for the river region, we must have the ability of self determination, local control,” said Reed.

Several members of the community were against imposing the tax and asked the city council to revisit the proposal before making a final decision.

“You didn’t take the time to really look at this tax, you rushed it in two weeks and boom.. and this is not what I elected,” said community member Sam Smith.

Community member Mac McArthur said, “You have over 10,000 city employees who work in the city of Montgomery. This occupational tax would be a $6 million pay cut.”

There are still questions about whether the tax will ever take effect. That’s because a bill in the legislature right now would require that occupational taxes be approved by the state. It’s a bill Mayor Reed says is inappropriate meddling in city affairs.

“That to me is a danger, and a crippling measure of power-hungry, arrogant legislators with the hubris to think that local people don’t know how to solve local problems,” said Reed.

The bill has already been approved by the house and a Senate committee. If passed, it would be retroactive to Feb. 1, meaning the occupational tax passed by Montgomery would require legislative approval.

The tax approved tonight is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

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