By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, August 18 Jackson County voters went to the polls and rejected pleas by the County Commission for a one percent sales tax increase. 64 percent of the voters voted down the unpopular tax increase.
Alabama Legislators have historically scheduled these kinds of referendums in single issue races where as few a voters as possible are likely to even know there is an election, much less one that raises their taxes. That way a handful of connected people are usually able to decide the issue (many of them local government employees) because they are the only ones aware of the vote.
Tax increase opponents have caught up with these tactics and are using social media to get out the word that the establishment political powers in their county or town are conspiring to raise taxes whatever the time of year.
In Jackson County tax opponents organized, campaigned at the polls, made yellow T-shirts, and distributed yard signs across the county to encourage tax opponents to show up at the polls and reject the one percent sales tax increase.
While they are celebrating tonight, Jackson County Commissioner Matthew Hodges told WAAY TV’s Megan Wiebold Tuesday night that the “No” vote would result in a, “Decrease in the number of paved roads or our ability to maintain those roadways, but as far as services and things like that, all of our appropriations we provide for rescue squad for libraries for municipalities to any of those agencies we give those extra dollars to, health department. All those agencies will be cut out first because we have to maintain our core business which is the sheriff’s department, our public works.”
GOP grass roots activist and the owner of Victory Political Social Media Trey Edwards told Wiebold, “I think people overall across Alabama are fed up with taxes and this is just another symptom of that. That’s what happens when you try to raise taxes people are going to go vote it down.”
The talk of state tax increases demanded by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) is motivating voters to stand up and vote “No” in many of these local referendums.
Back as early as March former Mobile County Commissioner and GOP strategist Stephen Nodine (R) warned that, “Bentleys tax plan will dramatically affect every school tax vote in the state and any local efforts to shore up the mandates and cuts from the state.”
While he agrees with the idea that the state needs to increase revenue for the general fund, Nodine told the ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ that at this point the best thing that the Governor could do is withdraw his tax plan and let the legislature pass a budget that gets the state to next year. Nodine has said that the Governor and the legislature should go to the voters with a constitutional and tax reform package rather than the cobbled together package of taxes on cars, utility bills, insurance, and cigarettes that Bentley proposed.
Since April voters have voted overwhelmingly to reject tax increase proposals in Baldwin, Lawrence, Colbert, and now Jackson County.