Vinemont Council mulls half-cent sales tax increase

Councilwoman Shirley Arnett and Mayor Radginal Dodson are seen at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Vinemont Town Council. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

VINEMONT, Ala. – The Vinemont Town Council on Tuesday night discussed possibly raising the town’s sales tax by a half-cent in an effort to help Vinemont schools. There was no vote on Mayor Radginal Dodson’s proposal, as it will need to be read twice prior to the council voting on the increase. 

Dodson explained to the council, “This sales tax, we’ve run it by the lawyers and what we’ve come up with was an idea to increase the sales tax in the town of South Vinemont by half a cent. It’s 8.5% and it would go to 9%. The half-cent would go to the school with the understanding that it would not be used for salaries for teachers. It would be used for necessities at school, but the lawyer said, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ Because it’s a county school the city can’t do that, but there are things we can do. We can enact this half a cent sales tax and once that sales tax is turned it, they would cut a check and go to the city of Vinemont. Then turn around and make a donation to Vinemont schools for the amount of that check, and it’s legal. It can’t be brought before the town as a half-cent sales tax going to the school.”

Dodson asked the council for a proposal.

Before asking for input and discussion from the town’s council members, Dodson said, “They ya-ya back and forth worried about the kids and we’re dealing with cotton pickin’ money that they don’t got to increase the security at the school. We’ve got situations where we don’t have the necessary things to teach the kids with. We’ve had paper problems and from what I understand, situations to where they just run out of things and just have to do without.”

The half-cent would only be applied to retail sales and the council will be looking at different ways to divide the money fairly between the Vinemont schools.

Cullman County School Board member Mike Graves stressed, “It’s up to y’all. It’s something y’all are wanting to do for the schools, and if you are going to do it, divide it equally. There are different ways you can do it. To me the biggest need is to make sure the safety and security is taken care of. That’s the top need you want to make sure of.”

Council member and Vinemont Middle School teacher Sonya Mabry expressed her feelings since the most recent school shooting in Colorado, saying, “I worry about it. I’m not going to lie to you. I worry about it. I feel like you’re just a sitting duck with no help. Safety is really an issue now.”

Graves added, “The middle school is probably the most secure facility at Vinemont. You can’t get in it without breaking glass to get in. The high school and the elementary school are wide open.”

The council also discussed the conditions of several roads in the town including the deterioration of Woods Street. The cost to resurface the street is between $12,000-$13,000.  Dodson also mentioned four large potholes near the old store on County Road 1354.

He said, “It’s so bad that cars are starting to know the potholes are there and are dodging them by going over into the other lane or driving literally off the road to miss them.”

There was no vote on roads Tuesday night. 

This Saturday, May 18, will be the make-up day for the April rainout of “Day at the Park.” The event will begin at 10 a.m. and end around 3 p.m. 

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Christy Perry