WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Walker County is looking at a sales tax increase to help pay off some of the county’s pressing debt.
Walker County shoppers currently pay a two cent sales tax to the county which County Commission Chairman Jerry Bishop says goes toward education. The county is looking at a one cent increase that would go toward making a $1.5 million payment on its debt.
“Many years ago, we, not we, but our leaders made some bad decisions,” Bishop said. “Like a lot of counties and states and federal government, they borrowed money and they didn’t pay it back.”
Bishop said the county needs to make the payment by February or face bankruptcy. The vote on the tax increase could come to county residents as early as August.
“According to the lawyers, you will have to file bankruptcy and the courts will give us some advice and guidance and tell us what to do,” Bishop said.
In order for a tax increase to be passed, it has to be approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor. Then, the people of Walker County will vote on it. Local businesses are weighing in on the proposed sales tax increase.
“I don’t want the tax, I don’t want the increase [in] tax,” said Rusty Richardson, owner of Bernard’s Store for Men. “But at the same time, I have to be for it for our city and county to move forward.”
Some business owners are also worried about the way it will affect their earnings.
“It could affect my bottom line, absolutely,” said Lindsey Kilgore, owner of Black Rock Bistro. “I think it can affect everyone’s business bottom line.”
Kilgore said although the added tax could affect her business, she’s in favor of it.
“If this small increase can help pay off this debt and we can move forward with positive decisions in the future, then I say let’s do it,” Kilgore said.
Bishop said the one cent tax increase could generate around $7 million annually. In addition to debt payments, the money would also go towards safety purposes and road improvements, according to Bishop.
Bishop told CBS42 News that the $1.5 million payment is only a small portion of what they owe, and need to make more payments in the future.