Homewood raises sales tax to 10% to help fund city school improvements

HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — Sales tax in Homewood will soon be a little higher. The city council voted unanimously tonight to raise the tax from nine to 10 percent.

The vote happened after a contentious city council meeting where the public was given a chance to discuss the increase.

Money from the sales tax will go towards a $110 million bond. A big chunk of that will be given to Homewood City Schools, which according to the superintendent, is struggling to keep up with a booming student population.

That said, the notion of raising the sales tax proved very unpopular with the public.

Not a single member of the public who spoke at the public hearing Monday night supported an additional tax.

“It’s been rushed, it’s been clandestine, it’s been hard to get information. I don’t trust that they have looked at every option or hired the right experts to make a wise and good decision on behalf of our city,” Homewood resident Jason Strauss said.

But the council said they did their due diligence. Members unanimously passed the ordinance, which they called the only solution to an urgent problem with Homewood City Schools, which will get half of the money.

“The kid-friendly aspect of Homewood is so very important, we don’t want to do anything to compromise or lose any of that,” said Council president Bruce Limbaugh, who pointed out that passing the ordinance any later would cost the city even more money.

Homewood City Schools Superintendent Bill Cleveland said at the meeting that while the student population in Homewood have grown 30 percent since 2000, the facilities have remained the same size.

“We’re just fortunate that we have a group of city leaders that understand the things that the community thinks are important. Certainly, the students are part of that,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland said that while the school system is still in the middle of planning how it will spend the money, he believes Homewood Elementary School has the most urgent need for improvement.

Berkley Squires, the director of Parks and Recreation in Homewood also said at the meeting that there are not enough sports teams and facilities to accommodate all of the children interested in participating in activities. The parks department would also get some of the bond money.

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