PHENIX CITY, AL - Rental property owners came out in full force Monday against Phenix City Council's proposed "renter's tax."
John Thayer has had rental property in Phenix City for over 30 years. Now, he and other people who own 3 or more rental units are facing a 1.5% for every unit they own. A tax they say will have to be passed to the renters.
"Times are tough. People are having a hard enough time paying the rent, and if you bump it up just a little bit more, it's going to be harder for them"
Areonda Blanding has been renting in Phenix City for years, but after hearing about the tax, she is not sure she will stay in town.
"We'll be looking for somewhere else to move. I mean, I work in Auburn anyway. Why not just move up there?" said Blanding.
That is one thing rental property owners, like Sherri Applewhite, are afraid will happen if the proposed tax is passed: competition with other cities without the tax.
"People may go across the river to rent property. I can offer the same thing here in Phenix City, but they can also get it in Columbus for cheaper," said Applewhite.
Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter disagrees.
"People who choose to live in Phenix City are going to live in Phenix City. People who choose to live in Columbus will live there. If they choose to live in Russell County or Harris County or wherever they are going to live where they want to live," said Coulter.
While Coulter says he is opposed to the bill, he says it could help the city.
"The good things are the revenue that I would produce and the things that you can do with those revenues."
Renters like Blanding say those positives may not be enough.
"I'm here until next year, and we'll go from there. If it does increase, then I probably will be seeking to move somewhere else."
Some rental property owners say they will have to absorb the cost of the tax for all the renters who are currently in leases.
The city council is set to vote on this bill Tuesday.