Garden City passes 2019 budget, half-cent privilege tax, stipends for volunteer firefighters

W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune

The Garden City Town Council passed its FY2019 budget Monday evening. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

GARDEN CITY – On Monday evening, the Garden City Town Council had a full agenda to consider, including the FY 2019 budget, a new local tax and two measures to help out local emergency responders.

The 2019 budget is similar to last year’s in most line items, with mostly minor changes.  Major changes include a line item to allow the purchase of a new tractor and bush hog which currently has no amount listed, and a zeroed “patrol/enforcement” line in favor of a “police department/county deputy” line budgeted at $40,000.

Monday’s council agenda contained a proposed ordinance to reinstate the Garden City Police Department, but the ordinance was not presented during the meeting.

The total FY 2019 General Fund budget as passed is $352,285.95, compared to $311,391.07 last year.

  • Water Department 2019 – $121,400.00; 2018 – $124,250.00
  • Sewer Department 2019 – $30,100.00; 2018 – $28,150.00
  • Fire Department 2019 – $34,934.66; 2018 – $24,640.00

Half-cent privilege tax

The council passed a half-cent privilege tax “Upon every person, firm, or corporation . . . engaged or continuing within the Town of Garden City in the business of selling at retail any tangible personal property whatsoever, including merchandise and commodities of every kind and character . . . an amount equal to one half of one percent (½%) of the gross proceeds of sales of the business except where a different amount is expressly provided herein,” according to Ordinance 2018-222.  Also included in taxable activities are:

  • Events for which paid admission is charged, with the exception of schools
  • Sale of mining, quarrying, compounding, processing or manufacturing machinery
  • Sale of vehicles, mobile homes, and mobile home setup equipment
  • Sale of farming equipment
  • Sale of certain items through coin-operated machines

Additionally, the ordinance places a half-percent excise tax on the “storage, use or other consumption” of

  • watercraft over five tons displacement
  • mining, quarrying, compounding, processing or manufacturing machinery
  • vehicles, mobile homes, and mobile home setup equipment
  • farming equipment

These taxes are in addition to any current licensing fees and will be collected by the Cullman County Sales Tax Office.

Emergency responders get a boost

Thanks to a unanimous Council vote, Garden City’s volunteer fire department, in addition to benefiting from a $10,000 increase in its budget, will also now enjoy stipends paid for attending training and responding to emergency calls.  The resolution grants the fire chief $150 per month, and each member of the department will receive $10 for attending one training event per month, $10 for each fire and rescue call, and $2 per medical call, paid monthly.

Additionally, the council authorized the chief to purchase new blood pressure devices and pulse oximeters to update the department’s gear bags.

Ongoing issues with Deb’s Tire

The council did not take any action but did discuss at length its ongoing problems with the Deb’s Tire store in town, with multiple members complaining about the number of mosquitoes around the property, where stacks of used tires are stored outside and exposed to rain.

The Town has an ongoing legal case against the used tire dealer, and members expressed frustration over the lack of progress in the case, saying that the case has repeatedly received continuances (postponements) when court dates have come up.  Some council members expressed equal frustration with Town Attorney Roy Williams, suggesting that if the case continues to sit stagnant, the Town should consider another attorney. Mayor Tim Eskew said he would talk to Williams to find out the status of the case and what can be done.

The council also voted to remove Pam Leslie from the town’s accounts and assigned Utility Clerk Shannon James to be custodian of all municipal funds.

The Garden City Town Council will meet next on Monday, Oct. 15, at town hall with work session at 5:30.  The public is invited to attend.

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