By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Madison Mayor and City Council revisited the idea of raising the Occupational Tax at last Friday’s work session. Currently, the City of Madison charges a $50 base fee for a business license and then charges an additional $8 fee for each employee up to 10 people and a $4 fee for 11-plus employees. According to Hawk, the city currently brings in over $37,000 annually from the occupational tax, but surrounding communities garner more than $70,000 in revenue from the yearly tax.
The council is considering raising the current base fee of $50 to $60. The employee fees would increase to $12 per employee up to ten employees, and then up to $8 for every employee after.
Councilman Joe DiLetto suggested earmarking the extra revenue from a raised Occupational Tax to help finance a new fire truck for the city.
“I am never for raising a tax just to be raising a tax, but if there is a specific area that a tax can be obviously beneficial, I would like to see us to pursue it,” said DiLetto. “I think it would be helpful to use the money for a specific purpose that is visibly helpful to the citizens of this city.”
The Madison City Fire Department is hoping to procure a fire truck with at least one 39-foot ladder on it to increase efficiency and overall safety.
“We would rather fight a fire from an offensive standpoint than from a defensive standpoint,” said City Fire Chief Tim Carter.
Used equipment at 350,000, and we could live with that, and last
The council debated whether or not designating that revenue for a specific project or purpose should be done.
City Manager David Nunn noted that new fire truck could cost upwards of $800,000. “If we wanted it brand new, SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sale Tax) would be the only way to go, I would think,” said Nunn, who also reminded the council that the next SPLOST vote is still several years away. A used fire truck could cost upwards of $350,000.
Before making any further decisions, the council considered approaching Morgan County government to see if there would be any interest in collaborating on purchasing fire equipment.
“I think we need to keep our options open and talk to the county and see what they think,” said Mayor Fred Perriman.
City Attorney Joe Reitman noted that the money from the Occupational Tax would normally be placed in the city’s general fund, where city council members could then decide how to specifically use the money.
“I think it’s time for government, and especially this government, to open our eyes and be open to doing things in a new way than we have been used to,” contended DiLetto.
The council has not decided yet when they will put the increase on the Occupational Tax to a vote yet.