Preparing for Debby: Bentley announces tax holiday for safety itemsPublished 1:42pm Monday, June 25, 2012
As Gulf Coast residents continue to keep an eye on Tropical Storm Debby, Gov. Robert Bentley is preparing to unveil Alabama’s first-ever state sales tax holiday for severe weather preparedness items.
As part of the holiday, according to Bentley’s office, items related to severe weather preparedness will be exempted from state sales and use taxes over a designated weekend. A provision also allows counties and municipalities to join the state by removing their own local sales and use taxes from the same items during the same weekend. More than 200 local governments across the state have decided to join, although the city of Atmore will not participate, according to officials at Atmore City Hall.
The annual sales tax holiday was a key recommendation of Bentley’s Tornado Recovery Action Council, which was appointed following the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak. Legislation that created the holiday was approved in April and signed by Bentley.
“Being prepared is the first step to a quick response to a natural disaster,” Bentley said. “If people have the emergency supplies they need, that will go a long way toward helping them weather any storm.”
The sales tax holiday for 2012 will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 6. The holiday will continue through midnight on Sunday, July 8. By having the holiday in July of this year, retailers and municipalities were given time between the holiday’s legislative approval and the designated weekend to organize and prepare for participation. Final preparations will continue until the start of the holiday on July 6.
Items covered by the sales tax holiday include:
* Several types of batteries, including cell phone batteries and chargers
* Battery-powered radios
* NOAA weather radios
* Flashlights, lanterns, and emergency glow sticks
* First aid kits
* Duct tape
* Plywood, window film or other materials, specifically designed to protect window openings
* Portable generators
* Gas or Diesel fuel containers
* Tarpaulins and plastic sheeting
* Any non-electric food storage cooler or water storage container
* Non-electric can openers
* Any artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, or reusable ice
* Fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors
* Ground anchor systems such as cords or rope or tie-down kits
The covered items must cost $60 or less, except for generators, which are covered as long as they cost $1,000 or less.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said the holiday is a win, win for shoppers and retailers alike.
“This sales tax holiday will be good for the public and for retailers,” Brown said. “The main objective is safety. By stocking up on supplies, families can be better prepared for future emergencies.”
Beginning in 2013, the annual sales tax holiday will be held during the last full weekend of February. The goal is to place the holiday in close proximity to the annual Severe Weather Awareness Week and, in turn, encourage people to stock up on needed supplies in advance of Alabama’s primary severe weather season.
In anticipation of up coming sever weather caused by Tropical Storm Debby, Bentley spoke briefly in Daphne on Monday about storm preparedness.
“We are continuing to track this storm around-the-clock,” Bentley said. “As we’ve seen, there can be major changes in the forecast track in a short period of time. While we may not have a direct hit from Debby, we are still seeing the effects. There have been very dangerous currents along the Alabama Gulf Coast, and people need to continue to monitor weather conditions.”
Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner echoed the governor’s sentiments.
“Tropical Storms Debby is a good example of the importance of being prepared for severe weather,” Faulkner said. “With the unknowns of any tropical system, preparing in advance can make a real difference.”