5 mill ad valorem tax discussed at Smiths Station council

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By Denise DuBois

The Smiths Station City Council had its second reading of the five millage ad valorem tax at its April 24 city council meeting. The tax, which is allowed by state law without a vote of the residents, could bring $150,000-$200,000 to the city. Currently, the city does not have a property tax.

“When I took over as mayor, the state of affairs of the city – the budget – was great. But it did not (allow) for any kind of growth whatsoever. It (allowed) for sustainability – the same thing over and over again,” said Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland. “We need to pass a small, minute tax.” Copeland said the hope is to bring sewer services to Smiths Station. “Not to mention our rapid growth of 81 new houses and subdivisions going on right now as well as two huge commercial businesses are coming. This has been thought out and prayed over.”

Discussion among the council agreed that the tax needs to be approved.

Richard “Dick” Key said the council should have passed it long ago.

“We all want to see Smiths Station prosper,” said Morris Jackson. “Our job as council is to make decisions for the betterment of Smiths Station. Maybe they’re not popular at all times but we have to look beyond what’s in front of us right now and look down the road. This is what we need to do. We’ve tried it before and it failed. This is something we should have done and it’s time to move.”

Two men addressed city council with dissenting opinions of the tax. Mike Bowden talked about his property that was annexed into the city when Smiths Station was formed.

“In 2001, Smiths Station formed a city. They did not ask my opinion, just annexed in. I hired legal council, but I lost. It was requested of me to bring all my apartments into the city. Why? Eventually you’ll tax me and you provide no services,” he said. In February, he received notice that the city was annexing all partial property into the city – including his. “That’s going to increase $22,000 a year on taxes. I know what’s coming. It will grow from five to 10 to 20,” he said.

Copeland and the council will also be affected by the tax, a fact that Copeland reminded those present about.

“I’m going forward with this knowing I have property. I have property. I have rental property and businesses from my father. I have personal property in the city of Smiths Station. This is affecting me as well. This affects me and my family greatly, but I do know it’s for the best of Smiths Station,” he said.

When called for the vote, all present councilmembers voted “yes.”