Thursday, June 11, 2009
Sewer, car tags concern senator
By SUE WATSON
Sen. Bill Stone of Ashland met with the Marshall County Board of Supervisors Monday to provide a legislative update.
At the end of the regular session Wednesday of last week, a local and private bill that provided mechanisms for collecting sewer bills on a proposed sewer development in the area of Cayce Road and Highway 72 fell into the dust.
Stone said the bill was ready to go to the floor after leaving committee in the Senate when the deadline for action passed.
“We couldn’t pass it because of a Constitutional prohibition of passing a bill that affects fees or expenditures within five days of the end of a session,” Stone said.
The senator said the bill did not affect the county’s authority to build the sewer system but was needed to secure some of the loan money for the project. The bill has language in it that says only a property owner can sign up for the sewer service and makes it clear that it is voluntary and that property owners can still opt to have their own, individual septic system, he said. That language provides a procedure by which the county can collect delinquent bills, he said.
The Legislative Car Tag Credit - a big issue this year in the Legislature and statewide - also fell through the cracks in the regular session. Stone is optimistic, however, that the Legislative Tag Credit will get the appropriation needed when the fiscal year 2009-2010 budget is finalized.
“The bill we had was supposed to totally fix car tags,” he told supervisors. “But it contained a triggering mechanism that required an appropriation during the regular session. We have been assured that the governor will include this in our special session call and my colleagues and I will do all we can make sure that the credit rate stays as 5.5 percent instead of dropping it to 4.25 percent provided for in the original bill or 3 percent as proposed by the State Tax Commission.”
Stone said there is “some sentiment in Jackson that the local folks (boards of supervisors and boards of aldermen) should reduce the ad valorem mill rate on car tags.
His sentiment is, however, with Marshall County on the tag credit.
“In a growing, rural areas like Marshall County, it is difficult to have the revenue to meet the demands for new infrastructure and services.” Stone said. “I think the board of supervisors does a good job keeping taxes as low as they can and still providing services that the public expects.”
“I think the Legislature should keep its promise in difficult times. While that credit rate has been as low as 3 percent before, now is not the time to throw that back on the taxpayer or local government.”
Stone said there is money to take care of budget problems but some politicians don’t want to take money out of the Rainy Day Fund.
“It’s raining,” he said, “and there are certain things you need to put a priority on.”
Legislation that would have redirected a 2 percent of the casual (individual to individual) sales tax collection from the General Fund to the Tag Reduction Fund is also contingent on an appropriation to trigger it. This would provide another $11 annually to help reduce car tags. Stone said that with the regular session ending without a budget, a special session will be required to get the new budget passed by June 30. Stone said it will take four to five days to get back to point in the process where the Legislature was before the session ended.
“We have to start from scratch just like it was in January,” he said.
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