UPDATE: White Hall council passes sales tax increase
The town of White Hall is expected to grow in the coming years, with anticipated land annexations and the pending renovation of the Middletown Commons.
The money expected from that anticipated growth is one reason why some council members voted against a proposed sales tax increase.
Their opposition though wasn’t enough.
Council passed the increase Monday by a 4-3 vote. It will increase the town’s sales tax from .05% to 1%.
The increase goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
The tax was first implemented in 2017, and one council member says the town has misused funds collected from that tax.
"They're not paying attention to what they're spending," Councilwomen Zella Keener said. "They're spending way beyond our means and tending to things that never needed tending to in this town."
Mayor Guy Ward was also against the tax hike. He said the growth of the town will naturally bring in extra revenue.
"It's a little premature," Ward said.
Neither Ward nor Keener are running for re-election next month.
Councilman John Michael is running unopposed for Ward's seat. He voted in favor of the tax hike.
"We're hoping it will double the current revenue from the half-percent sales tax," Michael said. "I voted for it because we were postponing much-needed infrastructure projects that need to be done. We could also possibly hire another police officer."
Early voting for the upcoming White Hall municipal election begins May 29. Election Day is June 11
Timothy A. Ridenour, Jr.
In April 2017, White Hall moved to increase the sales tax in the town to half a percent to generate more revenue and help fund the town's new public safety building.
In March 2019, the idea of increasing taxes again was brought up, and divided the council. Some, like council member Charles Mason, are in favor of the increase, saying it would help eliminate certain fees residents pay.
"I think it would be a good gesture toward the residents and the businesses to eliminate the fire fees and do away with them," said Mason. "Another thing we could maybe look at down the road is the utility tax."
But others, like Mayor Guy Ward, don't fully support the increase.
"I think we should hold off a little longer just to see because things are still developing," said Mayor Ward. "We still have, even with the half-percent we're getting, it's still showing increases. Every time we get a quarterly report we see a little bit more."
Ward says many council members are in favor of the increase because it will help the town move along and finish some anticipated projects, but claims the possibility of annexing the area behind the Middletown Mall will bring in the revenue instead of having to tax more.
"The Middletown Mall, or Commons, is already in the town of White Hall. But a lot of businesses behind the mall aren't. So with the TIF district being developed and everything, we're going to have more infrastructure developed back here."
At White Hall's last meeting, the council passed the first reading of the increase and will go through two more readings before an official decision is made on May 13th.
If approved, the increase in sales tax will go into effect on January 1st, 2020.