First there was one, now there are two occupational tax bills - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

First there was one, now there are two occupational tax bills

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Just hours after a revelation deemed shocking by some Jefferson County commissioners, another occupational tax bill is heading to Montgomery.

Commissioner Sandra Little Brown's announcement about introducing one was quickly followed by Representative John Rogers, (D) Birmingham.

Both occupational tax bills require all county workers even professionals to pay the tax.

Rogers' reinstates the rate of .045 percent. His also requires "reasonable" sewer rate increases over five years. He says the definition for reasonable would be his own. The bill also puts 15 million dollars aside every year for Cooper Green.

But in order for Rogers' bill to pass, a bill put Cooper Green under a healthcare authority and revert it back into a hospital must also pass.

Rogers says one of his main reasons for sponsoring yet another occupational tax is to bring employees back to work and to reinstate county services.

Those are the same reasons Commissioner Sandra Little Brown started advertising her own occupational tax bill over the weekend. She says the car tag lines have once again gotten longer and more employees are needed for the revenue and tax offices. The only solution she sees is an occupational tax.

Brown's bill has no set tax rate. It's unwritten and lacks a sponsor. Her bill also doesn't not have the support of every commissioner.

Commissioner Joe Knight believes the county needs to get through bankruptcy before asking the legislature for more help.

There's no timeline for when Brown's bill will be ready to go before the Jefferson County Delegation.

Rogers chairs that delegation. He plans on introducing his bills next week.

Rogers sponsored the last occupational tax that passed. It brought in about 100 million dollars a year. But courts declared it unconstitutional because it wasn't advertised for enough time.

For the last two legislative sessions, Jefferson County commissioners have asked for help and lobbied to get more support for occupational taxes, limited home rule, and a distressed county bill. All the bills were killed by members of the Jefferson County Delegation. Some of them died before leaving the delegation.

This was the first year Jefferson County lawmakers appeared as if they wouldn't ask for help.

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