LEE COUNTY, Ala. — The price of hard liquor in Lee County could go up slightly if a proposed five percent sales tax is approved by the legislature.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said it would be a funding mechanism for the Lee County District Attorney’s Office and the Lee County Circuit Clerk’s Office. Hughes said that the district attorney’s office is unique in that it is a state agency, but it gets very little from the state and tax payers to operate.
Hughes said that their budget for this year is around $1.5 million, with $275,000 of that coming from the state. That equates to a little less than 20%. The other percentage of funds has to be raised by the office. The funds given to the district attorney’s office from the state are used solely for personnel, and he adds that in the past five years, the office has seen a decrease in $94,000 in funding, which is almost $20,000 a year.
“When they cut us $20,000, that’s cutting from the salary pool, and that’s bodies,” Hughes said. “We don’t have the luxury of other state agencies to if our budget gets cut to reduce other things, maybe less travel, less pens and paper. Those are actual bodies, and that’s the tough part for us is trying to make that up.”
Hughes said that five percent sales tax would only be for hard liquor, and would apply to state run ABC stores. Hughes added that 80% of the funds accrued would go the district attorney’s office, and the other 20% would go to the Lee County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
“I don’t want to say we’re desperate, but it’s close,” Hughes said. “We have $1,500,000 budget, and we’re still short some people. The State of Alabama is only giving us $275,000 of that. So anything short of selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts is on the table for us. I’m excited about this bill because this gives us some year to year stability that we’re looking for.”
The funds would go towards personnel needs, but Hughes said it would also allow his office to help out local law enforcement agencies if they are in need of equipment, training.
Hughes said that if the item is passed, folks can expect to see the sales tax go into effect sometime this summer.