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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2007
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Hartselle police jurisdiction
Council OKs creating zone, which could increase business fees, sales taxes in, around city

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com· 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you have a business within three miles of Hartselle’s corporate limits, the cost of operating may increase next year.

And, if you shop at those businesses, there’s a possibility that you will pay a higher sales tax rate.

A City Council majority Tuesday night authorized Attorney Larry Madison to start the process of creating Hartselle’s police jurisdiction.

“I’m going to need some guidance on what direction you want to go,” Madison said. “There are multiple things we’re going to have to discuss relating to taxation rates.”

1.5 cents in sales taxes

Under state law, the council can require those businesses to purchase a city business license as long as the cost is one-half the cost for businesses inside the city limits. Also, the law entitles Hartselle to collect 1.5 cents in sales taxes in the jurisdiction.

“This is bull,” Cowboys owner Mike Peebles said. “This is not providing us better police and fire protection because those departments in Hartselle are a joke. They are doing this for the money. It’s taxation without representation.”

Alabama law prohibits municipalities from creating police jurisdiction for revenue purposes. However, municipal governments can levy taxes as long as they are using the funds to protect the health, safety and property of citizens in the jurisdiction.

The additional revenue will be a bonus, Mayor Dwight Tankersley said, but creating the police jurisdiction is not about money.

“This is about being able to provide services for residents who are going to be in our planning jurisdiction,” he said.

Although Hartselle does not do so, state law permits municipalities enforce their building codes up to five miles outside their city limits.

Planning jurisdiction

Hartselle currently uses section lines to define its planning jurisdiction. At the encouragement of the Planning Commission, the city has talked about changing this. During this process, Tankersley said, residents were complaining about being in the planning jurisdiction but receiving no city services.

By having the police jurisdiction, Hartselle could provide fire and police protection, the mayor said. “This will be services for people in the jurisdiction,” Tankersley said.

“Bull,” Peebles said.

“If the city wanted to provide some services, let them bring sewer to us. They are going to take our tax dollars, and we’re not going to get anything in return.”

In addition to business license fees, Tankersley said Hartselle will be able to collect 1.5 cent sales tax in the jurisdiction, meaning sales taxes could go from 7 cents on a dollar to 8.5 cents.

Peebles, whose business is on Alabama 36 near Interstate 65, said the council’s decision is still taxation without representation.

“I can’t vote on anything, but they are going to take money from me,” he said.

Hartselle had a police jurisdiction until the early 1990s, when city officials did away with it because of the cost of providing police and fire protection.

Police Chief Ron Puckett and Fire Chief Steve Shelton said they can handle the proposed jurisdiction without additional funding from the council.

Hartselle will not be the first municipality in Morgan County with a police jurisdiction.

Decatur and Falkville have police jurisdictions.

Decatur collects business license in its jurisdiction, but did not increase sales taxes.

Falkville increased the sales tax by once cent in its jurisdiction.

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