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One-cent tax would relieve county debt

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
Larry White has less than two weeks to get the word out.
As chairman of the Escambia County (Ala.) Commission, he is working hard to rally support for a proposed one-cent sales tax for the county.
The referendum will be on the June 27 ballot.
The penny tax will be used to retire the county's debt and to improve roads and bridges.
Of the county's 959 miles of roads, 430 are not paved. White said the county has been limited as to how much could be done to keep up the paved roads, much less pave dirt roads.
If voters don't pass the referendum, he sees the situation getting worse.
White estimates the revenue will be a little more than $2 million a year. The funds will enable the county to apply $750,000 to debt retirement, more than $1 million for road and bridge improvements and $150,000 for county departments.
White said the tax will fund the most aggressive road and bridge program in county history. He expects the county to resurface 200 miles of roads and pave 20 miles. The funds will also put the county is a better position to match available state and federal funds.
The funds will enable the county to retire existing road department debt and free up $416,000 annually to continue the road program.
In addition, with the county's general fund debt retirement, $467,000 will be available annually.
At the end of four years, the tax dies. For it to continue, voters would have to approve it on another referendum.