Tallassee City Hall

(File) The council meeting will take place via conference call.

Tallassee saw an increase in sales tax since this time last year, according to recent reports.

"I understand our sales tax is doing exceptionally well," Tallassee City Council councilmember Bill Godwin said during last Tuesday’s regular council meeting.

According to the May report, the city's sales tax revenue increased by $55,528 compared to May 2019.

Godwin said he is grateful city leaders had the foresight to increase the sales tax, add the property tax and implement the 2-cent gas tax increase.

"I would like to thank the council for approving the additional ad valorem tax and increase in the gas tax," Godwin said. "If that had not happened, our city would be in a mess and I appreciate you having the vision to do that."

The council voted 6-1 to raise gasoline tax in 2017 with councilmember David Stough voting against the increase. Money from the gas tax revenue was earmarked for street improvement projects.

"The gas tax was 2 cents a gallon when I came into office,” Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock said. “Most other cities are 4 cents. We went from 2 to 4 like most other cities. We earmarked the 2-cent increase for pedestrian walkways, street repairs and drainage problems. This has patched potholes, rumble strips, Whatley Drive project, demolition of the house over a broken storm drain, repair of the storm drain, stripe machine, sidewalks in east Tallassee, Jordanville, James Street and much more.”

In 2018, members of the council voted 6-1 in favor of increasing sales tax with Stough voting against the ordinance.

Sales taxes increased by 1% in the Elmore County portion of the city, bringing it to 10%. Tallapoosa County's sales tax was already at 10%. According to city attorney John Smith, the 2018 ordinance equalized both sides of the river. The city agreed to split the revenue from that sales tax revenue, with part going to Tallassee City Schools to assist with funding the construction of a new high school due to a list of safety concerns with the current school building, and the other for infrastructure.

In the same 2018 meeting, the council voted 5-2 to add an ad valorem tax Stough and councilmember Darrell Wilson voting against the ordinance.

The council approved a 5 mill ad valorem tax, so a homeowner with property appraised at $100,000 pay $50 in property tax yearly.

"When I came into office the city was 17 million in debt and 1.2 million away from our debt limit,” Hammock said. “We were under a consent order to build a new wastewater facility that would cost almost $5 million. We had to raise an ad valorem tax to be able to borrow the money.”

When the council voted to add a property tax, Tallassee was one of only 11 cities in the entire state of Alabama that did not have an ad valorem tax in place. The ad valorem tax was earmarked for the replacing the city's sewer lagoon.

At that time the city was under a mandate to replace the sewer lagoon due to multiple infractions. Work at the sewer lagoon is set to start soon and should be complete by the end of 2021 or early 2022, according to Hammock.

The city is now beginning its second cast-iron pipeline replacement, which is one of many capital improvement projects funded with tax revenue. Nationwide there has been a push to replace cast-iron pipes.

Last summer, Alabama Public Service Commission president Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and House District 81 Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) visited the city on Aug. 14 in to get a firsthand look at the efforts to replace the old cast-iron gas pipelines in east Tallassee from Hilltop Grocery to Britt Veterinary Services on Highway 14 — about 1 linear mile.

The city is scheduled to begin taking bids to replace cast iron pipelines in Wards 4, 5 and 7 this week.