MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The Mobile City Council shot down the idea of increasing the sales tax again; the measure failed by a vote of four to three on Tuesday.
This is the second time this year, the council has voted down the proposal, which is aimed a filling what Mobile Mayor Sam Jones' office calls a $29 million dollar budget shortfall.
Council members Bess Rich, Gina Gregory and John Williams voted against raising the sales tax.
Gregory does not believe there is a $29 million dollar deficit and Williams said he is not convinced a tax increase is needed.
"I am taxed enough already," said Williams. "I am taxed enough already."
Jones said the tax increase is needed to create revenue for the city. Capital improvements, public safety and economic development — namely, attracting Airbus suppliers to the port city — are all uses of revenue that are in limbo following the measure's failure along with that of the council to agree on an answer to the city's budget.
After the vote, Jones said he was disappointed.
"We have to be concerned at the level of services we provide at the same time. They are all tied together. You can not separate services to citizens and services to the community from economic development," Jones said.
Jones asked the council to keep his budget proposal and sales tax increase together as one issue. He also made mention of the city of Saraland passing a sales tax increase.
Council member Reggie Copeland encouraged fellow council members to support the tax and not worry about next year's re-election.
Some who sat through the more than two-hour meeting felt like the vote was politically motivated.
Reverend Cleveland McFarland said, "If you don't work with us, we will do all we can on election day to make you absent."
McFarland said he was concerned about the health of the city.
Bettye Bogan and Equilla Roberson support the tax increase and thought the council should, too.
"One penny won't hurt nobody. We need to re-examine it," said Bogan.
Gina Gregory said she is willing to meet in the middle. She proposed raising the sales tax by half a percent, but even that couldn't muster support.
"My starting point is the penny. Which means that I am flexible on how we roll the penny off and how we sunset the penny. Anything short of that, as a revenue generator, I am not in favor," said council member Jermaine Burrell.
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