Council member Ken Russell brought up the idea of an increase Tuesday morning.
“We need funding for projects that are long overdue with No. 1 being a new fire station,” Russell said. “I’ve explored it and I think there is only one way to do it. It’s not something that any elected person likes to talk about, but we need to increase the sales tax for the city.”
Mayor Petey Ellis said the last time sales tax was increased in Sumiton was in 1985.
“Our expenses (workman’s comp, fuel costs and insurance) continue to go up, and we are talking about substantial increases,” he said.
An amount for the possible increase was not determined Tuesday.
“We’re not sure what amount just yet,” Ellis said. “That’s something that we need to continue to look at.”
Ellis said 25 to 50 percent of the revenue from an increase in sales tax would go directly to building a fire station. The remainder of the funds would go to capital outlay projects such as road paving and repairs.
“Years ago, we could pave the whole city for what it cost us to do one project last year,” Ellis said.
Ellis also said the city hasn’t given employees a raise in recent years.
Council member Bill Fowler said the city offers free garbage pickup and doesn’t charge fire dues, two things he had considered bringing up in the past.
“There aren’t many cities that don’t charge for those things these days,” he said. “I understand why we don’t, but those are things that we all need to remember. We have a lot of free services here.”
Ellis said there are “perks” to living in Sumiton, including those free services.
“We take these things serious,” he said. “If we are going to think about raising the sales tax, we are going to do this in an upfront and open way. We are going to show people why it is needed. We are also going to get their feedback on the idea. We want to hear from our businesses and our citizens.”
Council members voted to hold a public hearing on the possible increase on Tuesday, May 21. The council is moving its regularly scheduled meeting for that morning to 6 p.m. and the public hearing will immediately follow.