The Piedmont City Council began discussions during their Tuedsay night meeting about the possibility of a one-cent sales tax increase that could hopefully help the city’s finances.
Mayor Bill Baker said that Piedmont was the only city in Calhoun County still at 9-percent. The others are all at 10-cents on the dollar.
Baker said that the extra money could be used for infrastructure.
Councilman Ben Keller would like to see the additional revenue used to give utility customers a break on their bills.
Councilman Mark Harper says the extra penny could bring in an estimated 300-thousand dollars annually. However, he would not support a tax increase, unless it is matched with budget cuts. For instance, for every 300-thousand in additional revenue, there would be 150-thousand in budget reductions.
Harper also wants the revenue to be used to hire an industrial recruiter for the city.
Councilman Frank Cobb agreed with Harper and then made a motion for the city to begin the search for a recruiter, who would work on commission instead of a salary. That motion passed.
A few residents spoke later in the meeting in opposition to raising sales taxes.
Business owner Dan Pope is concerned that an increase would hurt Piedmont businesses. He says his closest competitor is in Dogtown, which only has a 4-percent sales tax.
No action was taken on the one-cent increase and there will be more discussion.
In other action:
The Piedmont City Council voted against entering into a contract with Air Evac for air ambulance services.
The 29-thousand dollar contract would have meant that residents inside the City Limits who are airlifted to any RMC hospital would receive the service with no out of pocket cost.
29-thousand dollars is approximately the cost of one flight.
Last year, Air Evac responded to 19 requests for service in the Piedmont area with 6 of those coming from inside the City Limits.
Councilman Terry Kiser, while making the motion to not enter into the contract, said it was a great service but the city simply doesn’t have enough money at this time.
The council tabled a measure to have Jacksonville State University’s Economic Development Center do a retail market analysis for the city.
The council wants more time to negotiate downward the 75-hundred dollar pricetag.
The Piedmont City Council also took time during their Tuesday meeting to recognize Parks and Recreation Department 2013 B-Team Cheerleaders and Football players.
The football team went undefeated and were the Appalachian Champions.
There were 37 kids playing for the football team.