With the rate increase, the new gasoline tax will bump to two cents a gallon. The change goes into effect immediately.
Chambless said a recent study of 350 cities across the state shows that more than half of those cities currently have a gasoline tax rate of two cents a gallon or more.
“Our revenue is not where we projected it would be,” Chambless told council members at the Feb. 7 meeting, “and we feel at this time this is an area that we would still be in line with what other cities charge, and hopefully with gasoline prices as they are, this would not be such a burden on our residents and our taxpayers.”
The hike in the gas tax will bring in between $230,000 and $260,000 annually, Chambless said.
Mayor David O’Mary said following Tuesday’s meeting the rate hike was necessary because city expenses have surpassed city revenue by nearly $850,000 in the past year.
“The consequences of budget deficit spending were very far-reaching,” he said.
The biggest impact, he said, would be the effect the budget deficit would have on the city’s bond rating, which affects the city’s ability to borrow money in the future.
Because of the deficit, “we knew we had to balance the budget,” he said.
To help achieve that, the city was forced to withhold a $500,000 yearly commitment to the Jasper Industrial Development Board. The revenue created by the increase in the gasoline tax —coupled with an increase in the garbage fee late last year — will further shrink the gap, he said.
“Those things helped us get through fiscal 2017,” O’Mary said.
He said the city hopes to be able to return to giving $500,000 to the Industrial Development Board in the future.
In other business, council members:
•approved minutes of the Feb. 7 council meeting.
•approved parade permits for:
— Bevill State Community College to host a Mardi Gras event on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from noon until 1:30 p.m. The event —which includes a Cajun dish competition among student organizations and a parade along Indiana Avenue featuring the Bevill State jazz band —coincides with Fat Tuesday festivities associated with Mardi Gras.
— an Electrathon Grand Prix in downtown Jasper, set for Saturday, March 18. The event is hosted by the Walker County Center of Technology.
— Sasha’s Hope and Rescue Fun Walk, set for Saturday, March 25.
— the third annual Safe Kids Expo, sponsored by the Walker County Children’s Advocacy Center, set for Saturday, April 8, from 2 until 6 p.m. on the square in downtown Jasper.
•approved travel for the city’s magistrate and judges to attend training sessions in Huntsville and Gulf Shores.
•adopted amendments to the city budget for $23,000 to purchase a pickup truck, survey work on a new access road related to the new Jasper High School and a paving project at Oak Hill Cemetery.
•approved spending up to $10,000 to hire an HVAC specialist to review provisions of an energy-savings contract with Schneider Energy Co.
•heard from Chambless on bids for on-call concrete services in the city. After reviewing bids received, the contract was awarded to Suburban Concrete Co.
•heard from city purchasing agent Derleda Abrom on bids received for red rock. Abrom also requested permission to send out bid invitations for uniform service and a compact track loader.
•approved a request from Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe to send an investigator to a cell phone investigations class in Madison, Ala.
•adopted a resolution to allow O’Mary to sign an agreement with ALDOT for mowing along state roadways.
•adopted a resolution to allow a Coal Workers Health Insurance Surveillance program, which provides free health screenings for coal miners living in the county. The program will be held March 27-28 in the parking lot behind the Jasper Civic Center.
•adopted a resolution to place one property under the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance for overgrown grass and weeds.
•adopted a resolution to certify the city’s current ad valorem tax rate, and to approve collection and assessment of the fee.
•introduced establishing a business license for what city attorney Russ Robertson deemed ‘transportation network companies’ such as Uber and Lyft. Prior to receiving a business license in the city, procedural safeguards such as background checks on drivers and safety checks on vehicles will be required.
•O’Mary praised city workers, including Jasper firefighters and public works employees, for recent work in the city.
•Council member Willie Moore announced that a community meeting for residents in District 5 will be held Monday, March 6, at 5 p.m. at city hall.
•heard from former city public information director Tana Collins, who praised the Jasper Fire Department for its response to a recent fire at her home. Collins said firefighters were on the scene in just three minutes from the time the call was made for help.
Reprinted from the Daily Mountain Eagle with permission.