Phenix City takes a hit to keep competitive rafting edge

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Phenix City Council passed a resolution Tuesday morning to waive its local sales tax collections from whitewater rafting. The move comes as the city seeks to become more competitive with the Georgia side of the river.

An unanimous vote by city leaders allows the East Alabama town to enact a sales tax exemption in the amount of 3.75% of the 8.75% the city collects in sales tax revenue and an additional 3.5 % in guided whitewater rafting fees.

"The flip side of it is we're giving a little back in hopes of enticing people to do business with 'Whitewater Express,' the local outfitter, to have a competitive advantage so you can still spend your money for hotels, food and leisure activities," explained Chris Blackshear, Mayor Pro Tem.

Councilors introduced a bill in the Alabama Legislature 60 days ago asking the state to waive the 4% it collects in local sales taxes from Phenix City. The bill never made it out of committee, according to Wallace Hunter, City Manager.

Without the exemption from Phenix City, guided rafting on the Phenix City side of Chattahoochee River would cost $7.00 to $10.00 more on the Georgia side of the river.

But Phenix City leaders say they are not giving up on the state. The council plans to bring the issue back before the Alabama Legislature again in 2014.

If that happens, Phenix City will begin receiving its money from whitewater rafting that is on old at least until July 1, 2014 when the resolution expires. Unlike Alabama, Georgia does not require sales taxes on amusements.

Right now, Georgia collects 17% in amusement activity fees from whitewater rafting while Alabama is pulling in 18.75%, a difference of 1.75. But the prices to raft will not change. A low water ride remains at $32.50 and $48.50 for a high water tour.

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