Lawmakers Listen To Residents' Concerns

Dozens of people packed into the Russell County Courthouse Friday to talk with lawmakers about raising money for the county. The main issue was a proposed beverage tax to finance an employee pay raise.

Russell County residents made their feelings known to local lawmakers about some proposed bills that would give the county millions of extra dollars.

The most talked about bill was the beverage tax, which would give county employees raises, and help fund the volunteer fire departments.

"I don't believe the soft drink industry is going to go broke over a nickel," said one resident.

"Let the people of Russell County decide on what they want, not anybody else who has no involvement in this county whatsoever," said another resident.

All three lawmakers say they're in favor of the beverage tax, especially when it helps pay for necessary county services.

"They're too the point where they've utilized about every cause they can to generate revenue. A five cent soft drink tax in Russell County would raise almost two million dollars," said Rep. Billy Beasley.

While they support the beverage tax, lawmakers say it may be difficult to get the bill passed. "We do have a problem in the Senate where no local bill has passed in any of the 67 counties yet," said Sen. Ted Little of Auburn.

"I'm not saying right now it's dead, but I'm saying we'll certainly have a hard fight to get it to move up and move out," said Rep. Lesley Vance.

Senator Ted Little says if the beverage tax bill fails in the Senate, they'll bring it back in a special session. Phenix City councilors, by the way, recently voted not to support the tax.