Merchants thankful for city tax plan
.By BRIAN BLACKLEY
Some local merchants say that the city of Atmore's bold move to eliminate three percent sales tax for purchases made in December has made their registers ring as holiday traffic has been strong in the early part of the month.
As the city has responded to an economic downturn with plant closings and layoffs to save the local economic climate by saving shoppers three percent on all purchases, people seem to be responding favorably to the savings.
According to Dalton Anderson at Atmore's downtown Radio Shack, business has been strong, particularly last week during the annual Christmas parade.
The reason for the awareness comes from an aggressive advertising campaign and media blitz on the part of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce and the city.
City officials have notified media statewide to cover the story of the unprecedented forfeiture of taxes in the biggest sales tax month of the year.
According to Mayor Howard Shell, the move will cost the city over a quarter of a million dollars, but he says it's a small contribution to make.
Emilie Mims, director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, said her office is working with local businesses to advertise in markets nearby including Bay Minette, Foley, Monroeville, Brewton and other areas to help spur sales.
Carl Anderson at Atmore's Tot Shop says he hasn't been able to make a decision as to the fill effects of the tax reprieve, but he noted that sales have increased.
Edith Bean, another downtown Atmore merchant who operates The Bean Store noted that she has been very busy lately, but isn't sure if the sales tax is solely responsible.
Still, she hasn't heard much feedback on the tax issue.
Ricky Hughes, store manager of Swift Supply, said he hasn't noticed an increase in traffic, but he is thankful to the city for the decision which he says is about a lot more than dollars and cents.
Like Hughes, Francis Dunn of Jasmine's Place is grateful to the city.
And while Dalton Anderson is thankful to the city's leaders for their unanimous decision on Nov. 28, he says the city made a tremendous sacrifice.
The elimination of the three percent city sales tax lasts through the entire month of December and the tax will be reinstated on Jan. 1, 2002.
During the month, the city's biggest when it comes to sales tax returns, Shell said a full 10 percent of total sales tax revenue for the year will be lost.
Mandy Fails and Katie Guyton contributed to this story.