Tipton voters choose increased sales tax for improvements

Tipton_The sales tax in Tipton now cashes in at 9.5% after its voters passed the two-cent sales tax increase yesterday in a vote of 59-31.  Tipton's mayor says that the increase should bring between $4,000-$5,000 per month to the little town which will help them to pay off a hefty water debt, renovate an old building that will be their new city hall, and revitalize the downtown core.

Residents of Tipton are paying to build up the town again.  Mayor Marvin Huff says that decades ago Tipton had five grocery stores, five cotton gins, and six service stations.  However, now it's down to one of each - making downtown vacant.  He says that will no longer be the case.

Tipton is the sort of town where you may see folks driving their lawnmower to the grocery store.  But, while residents prefer to keep a small town feel, the city wants more money to revitalize downtown.  That money was granted to the town when residents passed the two-cent sales tax increase.  "It should bring in another $4,000-$5,000, we hope," said Huff.  "Of course we don't have a lot of business, so it's going to be tough."

The 9.5% total sales tax will be in effect for ten years, during which time the town will use a large chunk of the money for its new city hall - Mayor Huff says they're getting evicted from the old AEP-PSO building.  Now, they'll move to the old bank building.  However, although it has a beautiful façade, it's gutted inside.  "The roof's on it, but we've got all the inside work to do - plumbing, the whole works," he said.

After the new city hall is finished, they will start revitalizing the remainder of the downtown core.  "We want to open up a library, maybe, and a community center eventually," said Huff.  "That'll be way down the line."  Finally, the town will begin to chip away at a hefty water bill that they've had since the '80s.  Huff says that new water lines, sewer lines, a lift station for the sewer, and moving of lagoons added up over time.  "It was just a long term debt.  But you hardly ever get to pay off a long term debt," he said.  "I mean, it just keeps adding interest.  We just hope to be able to pay a little extra a month on it to rush it up a little bit."

Huff says Tipton really wants a museum, but it isn't as high on the priority list as other improvements the town wants to have.  But, they are working hard toward adding playground equipment, and expanding the parks to include more basketball courts and picnic areas.  Huff says that the town also is considering taking on a second full-time police officer.  However, he says they will only use the money they accrue from the sales tax to fulfill the wish list of projects and hiring that they already have.  He says it isn't his wish to raise utility taxes to get everything that the town may want immediately.

Count on 7News to keep you updated on Tipton's improvement projects.