PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - The population in Phenix City is still growing and city council members say their economic development needs to keep up. Council members are voting on nearly $20 million in capital improvements.
"We brought this package together so we can cover the entire city," The package Phenix City Manager Wallace Hunter is talking about includes five major projects including: building a city services facility at the old Cobb Hospital, adding sports fields at the Boys and Girls Club, and putting up a hotel on the Riverfront.
Hunter said, "We are doing the same thing at Idle Hour Park and we're developing that and tearing down the old bowling alley. We plan to put up a complex, swimming pool and a building people can rent out. That will bring revenue back to the city."
Idle Hour Park is a big under-taking, but Hunter says residents have been asking for the improvements for years, "A lot of citizens that have been here their whole life used to have a zoo and a lot of entertainment there, they wish for that again."
But many may ask, where is the money for all these improvements coming from? Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter answered, "The only way the city can do these types of projects is to increase taxes."
"Being able to fund the projects through the taxes we're putting into place and also be able to take care of the operations of it at the same time," added Wallace Hunter.
The council had their first reading of increasing taxes by 3/4 of a penny, making it the first tax increase in years. Coulter explained, "It has been 15 years since the city increased its sales tax at all."
But council members and Mayor Coulter say it's a small step that will have big results, "There's something here that everybody likes somewhere. You just have to look for it. You can see the need for it. The time to do these sorts of things has come."
Like we mentioned, it was just the first reading for that proposed sales tax increase. Phenix City council members will discuss the topic more before placing a final vote.