Tax Dollars at Work: Five Months of Mobile's Penny Tax

Tax Dollars at Work: Five Months of Mobile's Penny Tax

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MOBILE, Alabama -

The novelty of the once hotly contested penny tax seems to have worn away over the last few months, but that extra cost remains for anyone buying pretty much anything in the City of Mobile.

"It allows us to do our job," said City Engineer Nick Amberger. "Not to have to explain to people, 'Sorry your project is going to be two, three, four years out.'"

Nick Amberger says according to his numbers, that extra cent keeps Mobile running.

"Not that it's just the wettest city, but it's also a very old city. A lot of the infrastructure is very old, so revisiting that, repairing it, maintaining it, it's a never-ending cycle for us."

According to a new list released by the city, Mobile has plans to spend nearly $16 million with the penny tax. Much of that will go into construction and repair projects for streets, sidewalks, stormwater and drainage systems, and parks.

City leaders say the extra penny will help Mobile acquire more than one hundred new vehicles for various departments, including seventy five new police cars, two ladder trucks, and three garbage trucks, not to mention 24 other vehicles and trailers.

Mobile's Finance Director Barbara Malkove admits that so far, the incoming tax money is a little under budget from what she expected, but they're still seeing a positive impact.

"The city overall is in very good shape," said Malkove. "We've got a two percent increase in sales tax, and much of it is going to the capital funds or strategic funds to buy equipment for police, for public works, and to equip our officers to be on the streets."

Barbara Drummond with the Mayor's office says the penny tax is not as much about what's changing, but what hasn't changed.

"The penny helped us to stabilize our services," said Drummond. "Citizens may have seen some delays, but they did not see any interruption, we still picked up garbage, we still protected people, we still put out fires."

One of the biggest driving forces for keeping those services going: The arrival of Airbus.

"It's going to change the way we look, it's going to change our character, and it's going to make things much better because those are high paying jobs, and that's the direction we want to go into.

Unlike the previous installation of the extra penny, this one does not have a sunset date, and so far there's no end in sight for paying that extra tax.

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