CHILDERSBURG -- The City Council unanimously approved a 1 percent sales and use tax increase earmarked for street improvements at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“The additional 1 percent should bring in about $450,000 a year,” Childersburg Mayor B.J. Meeks said.

The 1 percent increase brings the total sales tax in Childersburg to 9 percent.

According to the ordinance, the city will still receive 3 percent in the general fund to go toward approved expenditures. The additional 1 percent may only be used for street improvements.

The ordinance will become effective Sept. 1, and will expire Dec. 31, 2020, unless extended by the Childersburg City Council.

An attendee asked exactly how much income the additional 1 percent would provide.

“We should have more exact figures after one more month of collections,” Meeks said. “We need to separate the lodging and rental tax out.”

Meeks said the additional 1 percent will be enough to pay for a $2.4 million bond including premium and interest.

“We will know the exact amount before we do the bond,” he said. “And any extra money will go into an escrow account where we could add streets to the project or pay the bond off earlier.”

Meeks said the street repair funds will be kept in a separate account.

The council also discussed a 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program which would provide $617,500 toward the purchase of a ladder truck. The City of Childersburg's 5 percent match is $32,500, which the council has not yet appropriated.

“I think we need to have the council approve the grant application process,” Councilman Jimmy Payne said. “We need to have money to match the grants.”

Meeks said the city has received several grants which have eaten up the city’s reserve fund.

Several council members said matching funds for a ladder truck might be in next year’s budget.

“I’m not sure where the $32,500 would come from,” Meeks said.

One attendee expressed concern about the grants.

“Do we really need a ladder truck?” he said. “I’m certainly not against it if the need is there.”

Another attendee said if Childersburg doesn’t receive the grant funding, another city will.

Meeks said with a ladder truck, residents can save on insurance rates because the ISO rating would likely be reduced one point.

In other matters Tuesday, the council:

O Issued a proclamation designating August 2014 as Childersburg Firefighter Appreciation Month, noting the department’s involvement with the “Fill the Boot” Muscular Dystrophy campaign.

O Approved a $150 full page ad in the 2014 Childersburg High School football program.

O Approved hiring B.J. Keller as a patrol officer for the police department.

O Approved a new computer work station for the fire chief in the amount of $1,140.

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