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Will Hartselle increase taxes in 3-mile police jurisdiction?

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

HARTSELLE — The city councilmen who promised no new taxes during their campaigns in 2004 will have to decide whether they are going to back away from that position in a proposed three-mile police jurisdiction.

Two of the issues that city leaders have to resolve are: Will they increase sales taxes in the jurisdiction? If so, how much?

Hartselle could increase the sales taxes for businesses in the district from 7 percent to as much as 8.5 percent.

“I don’t know what the other councilmen are going to do, but I’m not for making it higher than what people pay in the city limits,” Council President Kenny Thompson said.

Businesses inside Hartselle’s municipal limits collect 8 percent.

Hartselle could follow in Decatur’s footsteps and not increase sales tax collections in the jurisdiction.

“They won’t do that because they want the money,” said Mike Peebles, who owns Cowboys on Alabama 36 near Interstate 65.

“They see we are making a little money and they want part of the pie,” Peebles said. “That’s what this is all about.”

Mayor Dwight Tankersley calls Peebles’ allegations nonsense.

Tankersley said Hartselle is trying to create a planning jurisdiction and, at the same time, provide fire and police protection to businesses and homeowners.

To legally do this, Hartselle needs both the planning and police jurisdictions.

“Creating the police jurisdiction is not about money,” Tankersley said.

Katerina O’linger, a homeowner outside the city limits, believes something else may be at play.

“Forced annexation,” she said. “This is coercion to make people annex. If they couldn’t do it one way, they are trying another.”

O’linger owns property Hartselle has on its priority list for annexation. She said residents’ refusal to be annexed was the issue when the city withdrew its police jurisdiction in the early 1990s.

“In the back of my mind, I can’t help but believe that has something to do with this,” O’linger said.

Annex request

It was actually a request to annex that got this process started. In November, the Planning Commission recommended that the council deny Taylor and Heather Roberts’ annexation
application because part of
the 10.5 acres on Nance Ford Road is not in the planning jurisdiction.

The city went against the recommendation, which led the council-appointed commission to request a meeting to discuss the city’s policies.

Peebles, O’linger and service station owner Margaret Weaver wish the council had involved the owners of businesses and homes in the process.

“It really doesn’t bother me too bad, but I’d rather not be in the police jurisdiction,” said Weaver, who owns the Texaco on U.S. 31 with her son, James.

“No use worrying about it — they are going to get you anyway,” she said. “We were in it once before and we bought a city business license. I guess we’ll do it again.”

Planning jurisdiction

The most significant change for property owners may come by being in the planning jurisdiction.

City Planner Jeremy Griffith said state law gives Hartselle the authority to enforce its subdivision regulations up to five miles outside the city limits.

This means that if you want to construct a subdivision in the jurisdiction, but outside the city limits, you will have to file engineering plans with Hartselle and pay the processing fees.

“What we will mainly be looking at is making sure there are no substandard roads,” Griffith said.

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