By Gary Lloyd
The Clay City Council last week voted to authorize Mayor Charles Webster to seek an opinion from Attorney General Luther Strange as to whether Jefferson County was in violation of the law by keeping tax money designated for road paving work that is not being performed.
Webster said Councilman Kevin Small made the request, citing that the county has not met its obligation to pave county roads within the city. Small said that if the responsibility to pave roads belongs to the city, then the tax funds should be going to the city.
Small said the county receives 70 percent of gas tax because it was responsible for paving 70 percent of the roads. Webster said he doesn’t believe those numbers are correct, though he said he was going to retrieve the exact figures for Small.
“It would take a math expert to figure (the percentages) out,” Webster said.
Webster said that Small wants the Alabama Legislature to change the law, allowing municipalities to receive the tax funds directly instead of going to the county.
“I’d love for them to do that, but for it to ever happen I sort of doubt it,” Webster said. “We do need more tax base as far as gas tax money. There’s no way we can pave the roads in Clay with what we receive from gas money.”
Webster said the city applied to match half the cost to acquire money from Gov. Robert Bentley’s Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, the largest road and bridge improvement program in the state’s history, to improve Old Springville Road. Webster said engineers are already working on the first phase to repave Old Springville Road.
Webster said he believes the city will have to pay for the project, which is why he wanted the 5-mill property tax to be approved by the city council on top of the 2-cent sales tax increase.
“To hire two more deputies, to pave the roads we need to pave in the city, to help the schools on their security and the stuff we need to do to help our schools, unless we have that revenue, we don’t have the money to do all that stuff,” Webster said.
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