During a Baldwin County Young Republicans meeting earlier this week, State Senator Trip Pittman took time to address questions and concerns on two pressing tax issues on the minds of Baldwin County …
During a Baldwin County Young Republicans meeting earlier this week, State Senator Trip Pittman took time to address questions and concerns on two pressing tax issues on the minds of Baldwin County residents: a potential local gas tax and the state of the penny sales tax recently permanently extended by the Baldwin County Commission.
Pittman said the local gas tax would be a 3 percent tax that wouldn’t necessarily have to be enacted immediately.
“This would just give us the ability to have this ready to be used if we thought we needed that revenue,” Pittman said. “A local gas tax gives us the ability to keep local money here and use it how we need. If it were a state gas tax, only a small part of the money we generate would actually be coming back to us.”
Several members of the county commission have said publicly they would not enact the new local gas tax if the ability were given to them, but Pittman said it’s just gives the county a funding option.
“It’s one of those things that would be better to have it and not need it,” Pittman said. “But, if we need it, it should be there for us to use.”
With regards to the commission’s recent permanent extension of the penny sales tax, Pittman clarified his views on what the tax really was.
“First of all, it’s 1 percent, it’s not a penny,” Pittman said. “The tax is a 1 percent tax because on $1.00, it’s a penny. On $2, it’s two pennies.”
Pittman said the commission had every right to extend the penny the way they did, due to enabling legislation set up in the renewal of the tax.
“It’s was voted on in 2009 or 2010 to be temporary and then came back up for renewal in 2012,” Pittman said. “The commission decided not to act then, so the legislature stood up and acted to put on a five year, temporary 1 percent tax.”
Pittman said the temporary nature of that tax was deliberate.
“First of all, if it’s temporary, you can’t go out and bond that money,” Pittman said. “You can’t go out and create a lot of debt. You have to use the pay as you go program. Two, having worked around government and realizing the lack of accountability. If it’s not permanent, you main restrain their spending just a little bit and not get the cart in front of the horse.”
Pittman said in this case, he felt a lot of pressure was put on the county commission to act. Pittman said he was already working to get the renewal back on the ballot when the commission took their action to make the tax permanent.
“It was supposed to expire in May of next year,” Pittman said. “I agreed to extend to Sept. 30 so they could budget for a full year to put it on the ballot next June so it could be voted on. In the event that it failed, there would still be some time for the commission to put on the tax and them to have another vote or for them to make some cuts.”
Pittman said the percentage changes asked for by the county commission and the school board, which would give the county commission 55 percent of the tax revenues and the schools 40 percent, was still not a done deal within the Baldwin County legislative delegation, as Pittman called it an “if scenario.”
“We’ve got some good challenges here to be discussed,” Pittman said.