The Jackson County Commission held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 2023 in order to approve a resolution that will be later presented to the Jackson County Legislative Delegation.
As of October 1, 2023, if you buy a tag in Jackson County, that fee will be going up $5 per tag. Business license fees per your gross receipts will also be going up an additional $5 to $200. Recording fees will increase an additional $10.
There has been some worry over the business license fees. They are staggered in relation” to the amount of your gross receipts as follows: $50 fee for $0 to $250,000 gross receipt; $100 fee for $250,001 to $1,000,000; $150.00 for $1,000,001 to $2,000,000; and $200 fee for $2,000,001. In other words, if your gross receipts do not exceed $250,000, your business license will only be $50.
As far as tags go, and as an example, I paid $90 for my vehicle tag last year. This fall, I’ll be paying $95. For families with more than one vehicle, it would be an extra $5 per vehicle.
The funds from these proceeds will go toward roads, bridges, the Sheriff’s Department and the county’s general fund to support essential county services.
For some time now, the Sheriff’s Office has been contending with being grossly understaffed in relation to the size of the county. When factoring in vacation days or sick days, at times the entire county has been left with two or three deputies. One of the reasons why is the turnover rate. The JCSO has hired officers, and invested time and money into their training, only to have them leave the JCSO for somewhere else that offers better starting pay and benefits. The safety of the JCSO’s deputies is also of concern, as underfunding has caused a lack of equipment, that for other law enforcement entities and departments, is par the course upon sign-up. More training could also become available.
Jackson County Sheriff Rocky Harnen stated, “With crime constantly on the rise, we have found ourselves short-handed to adequately cover the third largest county in Alabama. It is our understanding that if this resolution is followed up by a state law to increase the tag fee by $5, it will be used only for the Sheriff’s Office and to help fix this county’s roads and bridges – which, of course, are in desperate need of repairs. The bottom line is, most people will not even notice the extra $5, but it will greatly enhance safety for the citizens of Jackson County.”
Among the list of options the commissioners could choose from was an optional $1 transaction fee, but with less revenue projected from that option, and with the commissioners not wanting a constant fee for citizens for every transaction performed, the commissioners opted for a solution that would only occur once or twice a year for most of Jackson County.
Commission Chairman Bill Nance stated, “The Jackson County Commission met in an emergency meeting to approve a resolution requesting the Jackson County Legislative Delegation support a local law, and submit a bill before the Alabama Legislature to implement additional sources of revenue for Jackson County. After consideration of numerous options, three are proposed in the resolution that will provide an estimated annual revenue increase of $640,000. These funds will be placed in the Commission’s General Fund and will be allocated for road and bridge improvements, support of the Sheriff’s Office and support of essential county services. The three options proposed include raising vehicle tag fee by $5, implementing a tiered County Business license fee, and increasing the recording fee by $10.”
Nance continued, “A major consideration in the selection of options proposed was minimizing the cost impact to our Jackson County citizens. The tag fee increase is the option that most directly effects our county citizens. A $5 increase in the tag fee will cost a family with two cars, as an example, $10 per year, increase the County’s share of tag fee from $1.25 to $6.25, and is expected to increase county annual revenue approximately $440,000. This accounts for nearly 70% of the estimated $640,000 annual revenue increase. These funds will be collected by the Revenue Commissioner, placed in the County General Fund, and allocated to road and bridge improvements and support of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.”
“Jackson County currently does not have or require a county business license. We propose adopting a county business license that will provide an estimated annual revenue increase of $100,000.”
“We also propose increasing the fee collected in the County Probate office for recording documents such as deeds, mortgages, powers of attorney, liens and others by $10 that will provide an estimated annual revenue increase of $100,000. The business license and recording fees will be collected by the County Probate office, placed in the County General Fund and used to support essential county services. The primary purpose of requesting and proposing these revenue options is to increase funding for county roads and bridges and support of the Jackson County Sherriff’s Office.”
“Our Jackson County Public Works Department and County Commission get more calls for help regarding our local roads than any other area. The recent heavy rains and freezing temperatures has had a significant impact on our local roads, especially those roads that carry our citizens to their homes. We currently have more than 250 roads on Public Works’ work order list requesting patching or resurfacing. Though we have multiple work crews allocated to working these roads, it will take time to get to all our roads that need repair. There are 1,100 miles of local roads in Jackson County.”
Nance continued, “Last year, 2022, we were able to resurface and preserve over 30 miles of our local roads and this year we have funded a three million dollar local roads program for 31 miles. The proposed increase in revenue will help add funding to our road program and although not a large increase in mileage, every mile we are able to resurface is a mile of county road without potholes. At a rate of 30 miles per year, it will take us near 40 years to take care of and resurface all Jackson County roads. Our Commission will work to find grant funding and other opportunities to help fund our county roads program.”
“Our Jackson County Sheriff’s Office does a great job serving to protect and defend the citizens of Jackson County by patrolling our county, staffing our jail and supporting our schools. As we all know, we have one of the largest counties in Alabama. At 1,127 square miles Jackson County is the third largest County in the state. Our Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is understaffed for the mission we ask them to do. With the additional revenue, we propose providing additional funding to support our Sheriff’s Office staffing and equipment needs.”
Nance closed with, “The resolution unanimously approved by the Jackson County Commission initiates the process to gain support for the requested local law to be submitted before this year’s Alabama Legislative session. The process to gain approval requires the proposed local law be posted in our local papers for four consecutive weeks to inform and allow our citizens to review and comment before being presented to the Alabama Legislature.”
If you are a citizen of Jackson County, and you would like to discuss this further, contact the Jackson County Legislative Delegation office at 256.218.3090. For the next week, this resolution will be advertised, allowing Legislative Delegation to receive input from citizens. This resolution will then be moved before the Alabama Legislature.
A full copy of the resolution is available for review on our website, theclarion.org at www.theclarion.org/?p=10752.