ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — The city of Alabaster passed a one percent sales tax increase Monday that will go into effect in just a few weeks.
The meeting on Monday stirred up a lot of mixed reactions – especially for residents concerned about the current record-high inflation rates.
About 13 people spoke in opposition to the sales tax increase, raising concerns about being on a fixed income during a time of record high inflation and tough times making ends meet. Other Alabaster residents were concerned about not having enough transparency from the city about projects.
Butcher shop owner Bobby Molan said because of how tough it is for some of his customers and neighbors to keep up with rising costs, this is not the right time to be adding another metric to the mix.
“I just don’t think it’s the right time with inflation where it is – people can’t afford chicken or eggs. I have people come into my butcher shop every day – ‘what’s on sale, what’s on sale, what’s on sale?’” Molan said. “God’s graced me and blessed me and my family. We do fairly well. But there’s a lot of people in this town that don’t. I just want you to think about that.”
During Mayor Scott Brakefield’s comments at the start of the meeting, he broke down a vision for the city. It’s a comprehensive plan that he said was drafted in 2016, including 15 separate projects to accommodate for the ever-growing city to expand green spaces, create a municipal green or main area for the city while helping with public safety by creating an Alabaster ambulance service.
Brakefield said raising the sales tax is a way to invest back into the community.
“While no one’s crazy about talking about sales tax increase. It is a positive for the City of Alabaster and we’re going to continue to change the face of our community much like the school system did – this takes us to the next level,” Brakefield said. “When they say hey it’s just not the right time, you struggle with having the right answer for that because when is really the right time? We’ll continue to work with those that were against us but as of is today we’re moving forward and we’re pretty excited about addressing the needs of the community.”
Andrea Holsback lost her father in July 2020 when she said an ambulance could not get him quickly enough to the hospital and he passed away from cardiac arrest. She said every second counts in an emergency.
“If I could pay an extra cent on every dollar I spend to possibly save a life, it would be worth it,” Holsback said. “It could be you or it could be your loved one.”
Brakefield said a new ambulance service is a non-negotiable project and will join the project of a bigger city library and a recreation center in the near future. Currently, the city contracts out to ambulance services for transportation to the hospital.
The tax increase is set to go into effect on May 1 once the state and nearby businesses are notified. It will raise the rate from nine percent to 10.