The long debate over Mobile budget is finally over. Today, the city passed a penny sales tax to cover a projected budget shortfall. The measure passed 5-2, with councilwoman Gina Gregory changing her vote from no to yes. She was joined by William Carroll, Jermaine Burrell, Fred Richardson, and Reggie Copeland. Bess Rich and John Williams opposed the measure.
The tax increases pushes Mobile’s sales tax from 9% to 10%. The tax has a sunset provision, and is set to end in July of 2015. The new fiscal year began on Monday, and Mobile was facing a projected $29 million shortfall.
Councilwoman Gregory said she was not going to sit back and watch the city deteriorate in explaining the changing of her vote. She offered an amendment to have the money earmarked that was ultimately passed. Gregory had previously offered a 1/2% increase as a compromise, but that offer never gained traction.
With the budget crisis averted, Mobile is now set for future economic growth. The sales tax increase means the city won’t have to make drastic budget cuts, which have been proven to be economic killers. The arrival of Airbus in the coming years will be a boost to the private sector. With the city now properly funded, Mobile could be in line to attract several of Airbus’ suppliers, which could bring more jobs than the plane building factory itself.