Preclearance now needed for sales tax increase

Published 7:00 pm Monday, June 10, 2013

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The County Commission will now have to get preclearance from the Department of Justice in order to take the next step toward implementing a half-cent sales tax to benefit the county’s volunteer fire departments.

The state legislature passed the bill that would add the half-cent sales tax this legislative session.

The county commission unanimously approved a resolution supporting the sales tax increase in March 2012.

It is estimated that the half-cent sales tax would generate around $300,000 a year.

Attorney Johnny Nichols said the commission received a letter that directs them to ask for preclearance.

Preclearance is an administrative procedure required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in which states and local jurisdictions covered under the act must submit all changes affecting voting and elections for preapproval by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Nichols told the county commission that Shelby County is currently challenging Section 5 and should the Supreme Court side with them, they wouldn’t need to seek preclearance.

The tax proposal will also have to appear on the ballot for voters’ approval.