By Loyd McIntosh, For The Tribune
CENTER POINT — The City of Center Point held a virtual town hall meeting Monday, Sept. 26, to discuss an ad valorem tax increase. Center Point residents will have the opportunity to vote for or against during a special election on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Broadcast on the City of Center Point’s Facebook page, the town hall meeting was hosted by Mayor Bobby Scott, Place 5 Councilwoman Ebonee Scott, and City Clerk Tameeka Vann. The proposed increase would increase Center Point’s ad valorem property tax from .005% to .012%. Copeland said the purpose of the ad valorem tax increase includes such items as infrastructure and waste disposal, and other public nuisance and safety concerns throughout the city.
“The goal of the tax would be to fund waste removal and debris efforts, the removal of dilapidated structures, burned and damaged houses, and abandoned apartment complexes, and to improve public safety,” Copeland said.
“As you know, one of our big issues this year has been bulk trash removal,” Scott said.
Earlier this year, Waste Removal, Inc. abruptly discontinued offering brush and debris pickup in Center Point, leaving the city government in a tough spot. The revenue expected from the ad valorem tax increase would be used to fund a new department focused on debris pickup at a cost of approximately $600,000 per year.
“This proposed tax will be primarily used to keep the city clean and to keep the bulk trash picked up,” Scott said. “We will have trucks running five days a week, basically, just to keep everything off the streets.”
The tax revenue would also be earmarked for other quality-of-life programs and initiatives, as well as to provide additional funding to the four Jefferson County schools within the Center Point city limits.
“Every year, the City of Center Point sets out funds for all four of Center Point’s schools to help with supplies and programs that are offered by the schools,” Copeland said. “Even though we don’t run county schools in our city, we have always tried to supplement and help with needed items from educational trips to student development courses. This will help us in further promoting our children’s learning opportunities.”
The proposed ad valorem tax of $0.012 would increase the cost of a typical $100,000 home located in Center Point from $500 to $1,200 per year. Making a case for support, Scott pointed out that Center Point’s current ad valorem property tax is currently lower than most other cities in Jefferson County and that Center Point didn’t tax property prior to 2018.
“In comparison to other municipalities around the county, Center Point has had the lowest property tax in the county, and that was only in the last three or four years when we didn’t have any property tax at all,” Scott said. “So that five mils that you currently pay was only added within the last four years. We ask that you vote yes on this property tax because it affects all of us. Our impression that we leave is very important to us.”
Should the referendum passes, the tax increase would go into effect in 2024.
The city received almost 150 comments and questions regarding the tax proposal on Facebook. Opinion on the plan was mixed.
“I would feel better voting yes if the funds were earmarked; I’d like to know where the funds are going before they are spent,” Center Point resident Eniah Vance said. “I’m all for improvement. I just like to know that everything is being spent wisely,”
“If you want a cleaner city with more police presence, common sense should tell you it won’t pay for itself,” Kendrick Sandridge said.
“I think we all realize an increase of some sort is needed, but this is too much at this time,” Rhonda Lambert said.
“Honestly, we’ve enjoyed low taxes for years,” Amy J. Whatley said. “The increase was bound to happen.”
The ad valorem tax special election is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Center Point City Hall, 2209 Center Point Parkway.