Public hearing on a proposed sales tax in Pelham

For months, the city of Pelham has been talking about forming a citywide school system. No decision was made Monday evening, but the public did get a chance to weigh in on a proposed sales tax increase that would be earmarked for the local schools.

"Every little bit matters to the consumers." Dave Szatmary says people can save money at his store because the sales tax in Pelham is lower than surrounding areas.

Szatmary says, "Pelham draws a lot of business into this area because of the sales tax being 8% versus 10% in Jefferson County or 9% down in Alabaster."

He opposes the idea of raising it to support a proposed Pelham School System. "I think it's going to hurt business. It takes a way that incentive people have to come in and spend their money in Pelham."

But some consumers say raising the tax won't make a difference to them. Rick Benson says, "Pelham is a great little town, but there's not a whole lot of things to shop for. I do most my shopping in Alabaster, so I'm paying a higher rate anyway."

But some business owners who attended a public hearing on the matter, still have their reservations.

The Pelham City Council has not yet voted on a school system, but if it is passed the new sales tax money will be earmarked for education.

Mayor Gary Waters says, "I think as an alternative{}to the city of Pelham going into the deep pockets of permanently creating a school system, this is a viable alternative."

Some Pelham residents spoke in favor of that. One parent said, "I would support the one percent increase for education. I think I would have to get more information on whether to support the Pelham School System."

Tiffany Fenley believes many will support a tax increase if it will improve the local schools. "If it goes back into the school system. I think it will be awesome for the city of Pelham."

The council says if a one cent tax increase is passed, money would still go to education if a school system is not approved. Mayor Waters says the one cent sales tax could be up for a vote August 5th.