Pelham mayor acting as 'voice of caution' following sales tax hike

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters has concerns over the city council's decision to pass a one-percent sales tax increase. (

Mayor Gary Waters is questioning the Pelham City Council's decision-making following its passing of a one-percent sales tax hike{}Thursday{}night.

"I don't think you should raise taxes unless you're doing it against a concise and clear course of action," Waters told ABC 33/40 today.

Local residents are expected to receive a letter informing them of the new tax increase, which is set to go into effect{}September 1. Council members believe the added tax revenue has the potential to generate $5 million for Pelham, money that could be used to fund a possible new school district.{}"I'm trying to be the voice of caution. I don't see the need in raising taxes unless its absolutely essential," said Waters.{}Not only is Waters questioning the tax increase, but he is against the sudden creation of a private school district after successfully spending several decades under the Shelby County school district's umbrella.{}{}"I have been a proponent of us partnering with Shelby County Schools because we have partnered with them for nearly 40 years with great success and I don't like the idea of us ending a relationship over a 17 week period of time."{}Council President Rick Hayes said conversations regarding Pelham and Shelby County parting ways were first discussed in December of last year. He and other council members feel the city is capable of managing its own schools in hopes of improving test scores and becoming a more attractive place for families to live.{}" We told them in September that if they couldn't address all of our issues, that we would have to start the process of analyzing and probably making a move," said Hayes.Mayor Waters has assured the citizens of Pelham that if plans for a new school district fall through, the city will spend the money raised by the tax increase on other educational programs.{}"Whether we break away from Shelby County or not, we are committed to help with schools within our corporate boundaries," said Waters.{}