Tag tax, alcohol sales to be decided in Dale County Tuesday

When Dale County voters go to the election polls Tuesday, Nov. 6, they will vote on two local referendums.

Whether to enact a tag tax to benefit emergency medical services and whether to allow the Sunday sale of alcohol are among the local issues to be decided by Dale County voters.

A 17-word question near the end of the ballot is “Do you favor the adoption of Act 239 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature?”

Although “emergency medical services” is not in the verbiage, approval of Act 239 will allow a $5 tag transaction fee earmarked to fund emergency medical services in Dale County.

“The money generated will be used strictly for providing EMS service in Dale County,” explained Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship. “We currently have one paid EMS service—in Ozark—and five volunteer emergency services in the county.

“One of our many goals will be to use this money to put more paid staff in the volunteer EMS units in the county,” he added. “We cannot address the problem without additional funding.”

A “yes” vote will mean the assessment of a $5 fee for each motor vehicle—except trailer tags—issued or renewed in Dale County beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The fee will not apply to tag transfers and replacement tag transactions.

Three percent of the proceeds from the fees collected will be retained by the Dale County Revenue Commissioner’s office to cover administrative costs and the remainder given to the Dale County Commission to be distributed to municipalities and emergency medical service organizations for EMS services, according to the bill.

“We’ve been working on this for eight years trying to get some funding for emergency medical services,” Blankenship said. “Through all the discussions one thing that everybody stayed committed to was making sure it all went to EMS.”

Blankenship said the history behind the idea for the tag tax to benefit EMS began while he was serving on the Ozark City Council. At that time the city of Ozark used an ambulance service that also covered Troy. “It got to the point where our ambulance was sitting in Brundidge so when it was needed it would go to either Ozark or Troy,” he explained.

Blankenship said that volunteer EMS services are diminishing because of a lack of funding and because of a lack of volunteers. “We looked at several ways to generate money to fund the EMS services and finally came up with a tag transaction fee because we thought that would have the least impact on any one group.

“We’re trying to get the volunteer organizations in a position where we can get money to them so they can spend more time doing emergency medical service than they are fundraising,” Blankenship said. “We just want people behind this proposal because a ‘no’ vote means we have no money for emergency medical services.”

Also on the Nov. 6 election ballot for Dale County voters is the issue of alcohol sales after 1 p.m. on Sundays in Dale County. If approved by the voters, the sales for consumption on premises and for taking off the premises will be legal.

Longtime State District 31Sen. Jimmy Holley is running unopposed as are State District 29 Sen. Donnie Chesteen and State District 93 Rep. Steve Clouse.

For the State District 89 Representative seat Joel Lee Williams and Wes Allen face off.

Most of the local races were decided during the primary elections because the candidates do not face an opponent. Those position include Dale County District 1 Commissioner Chris Carroll, Dale County Board of Education District 1 Member Gerald Cook, Dale County Board of Education District 4 Member Phillip Parker, Thirty-third Judicial Circuit Place 1 Judge Bill Filmore, Thirty-third Judicial Circuit Place 2 Judge Kimberly Clark, Dale County Circuit Clerk Delores Woodham, Dale County Probate Judge Sharon Michalic and Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson.

Local contested races to be decided are Dale County Commission District 3 where incumbent Charles “Chic” Gary faces challenger Harriet McFarlin and Dale County Coroner where incumbent Woody Hildbolt faces challenger Ronald King.

The election polling places in Dale County will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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