|RESTORE OUR ROADS - INFORMATION / DETAILS
Huntsville is the fastest growing city in the state of Alabama. Huntsville has 8% of the state's population and nearly 12 % of the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The State of Alabama has been working sporadically on Huntsville's transportation corridors for decades, yet the City still doesn't have a single completed limited access corridor. Huntsville is the only major city in the state without a loop road or a completed limited access highway from north city boundary to south city boundary, from east city boundary to west city boundary.
The roads network is vital to the City of Huntsville's ability to attract and retain companies looking to locate and expand in the area. The city is negotiating with more than 34 economic development opportunities that could potentially bring in tens of thousands of jobs. The metropolitan transportation network is one of the determining factors in a company's decision to locate in the region.
More than 50,000 people commute to work in and out of Huntsville every day from 14 surrounding counties. Our regional transportation corridors are vital to the prosperity and quality of life in the North Alabama/Southern Tennessee region.
Earlier this year, the Alabama Department of Transportation announced it did not have the funding to complete its road commitments for the Huntsville region. ALDOT delayed or deferred Huntsville's projects from five to 10 years, which bumped completion schedules out 10 to 25 years.
State highways are ALDOT's responsibility, but if the State cannot meet its obligations, Huntsville must find a way to move forward. The City is taking a leadership role to address its transportation challenges so residents can retain a high quality of life and keep the average 18-minute commute.
In June, 2013, Mayor Tommy Battle and the City of Huntsville embarked on a Restore Our Roads campaign to make the community and State aware of the region's critical road needs.
After months of negotiation, on Dec. 2, the Alabama Director of Transportation announced an unprecedented proposal to provide seven major road projects for the Huntsville area if the city would share half of the $250 million cost. ALDOT further committed to signing a legal contract that it will start work on the key road projects within the next five years.
The roads are among a list of primary corridor projects categorized and endorsed as top regional road priorities for 2013 by the Metropolitan Planning Organization, a transportation coalition of government representatives from cities and towns within Madison County.
Without the completion of the primary corridor projects, Huntsville is fast approaching over capacity and potential gridlock on the most highly trafficked roads within the next five to 10 years.
PAYING FOR OUR ROADS
The City of Huntsville's revenues do not provide adequate funding to support the required $25 million in annual expenditures to match the State's proposed cost share arrangement. To provide the City of Huntsville with the necessary revenues to accelerate these critical road projects, the City is proposing a one percent sales tax increase to invest in our transportation infrastructure.
Increasing Huntsville's sales tax rate by one percent would bring the City's combined sales and use tax rate to nine percent. This rate is in line with other urban areas surrounding Huntsville including Athens, Arab, Madison, Scottsboro and Decatur. Sales tax rates in Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile are higher, at 10 percent. The proposed one cent increase in Huntsville would not apply to automobile sales.
Municipal General Sales and Use Taxes in Alabama - 2013
The current breakdown of Huntsville's eight percent sales tax is:
State of Alabama 4%
Madison County 0.5%
City of Huntsville 3.5%
Auto sales and use tax rates are generally ½ of the total rate.
Huntsville's eight percent sales tax rate generated about $124 million in FY2013.
The additional one percent tax is projected to generate approximately $30-$35 million per year. This will allow the City to match the State's $25 million annual funding requirement over five years and commit any remaining funds to new road projects and capital/economic development projects. While no one wants to increase taxes, the City of Huntsville believes the sales tax is the best viable option to meet urgent road and capital needs.
The sales tax increase provides a "pay as you go" approach and does not burden future generations with debt.
Huntsville has not had a sales tax increase since Nov. 1, 1989. The one percent tax would take effect March 1, 2014.
For every $500 a family spends on monthly retail purchases, the one percent sales tax will cost an extra $5.