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Showing posts from 2001

Alabama Taxes

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I was the lead writer in a series on Alabama's tax system.
It was a project that I worked very closely with Jim Williams on. The lines with links are pieces I authored.

Special Report - al.com: Alabama's Taxes
 Tax burden falls heaviest on poor
Is the tax system adequate?
The Legislature:
Business tax plan liked by schools
Putting faces on fairness:
Low-income mother bears big tax burden as she balances bills
Mid-income family says government wasteful, inefficient
High-income family says tax structure hurts public schools

Tax shortage effects many:
PRISONS: As budgets get tighter, security gets looser
TEXTBOOKS: Schools trying to balance books, budget
WATER: Understaffed ADEM fights upstream battle
DHR: Too few caseworkers to handle adult abuse, neglect
STATE TROOPERS: Shortage leaves highways unpatrolled

A visual look at taxes:
Comparison of state and local tax burdens on three families
Gap in tax resources
Tax burden comparison
State, local tax source
Percent of taxes earmarked
State a…

HOME RULE DEBATE COMMENCED BEFORE 1901 CONSTITUTION

HOME RULE DEBATE COMMENCED BEFORE 1901 CONSTITUTION
THOMAS SPENCER News staff writer
Publication Date: July 8, 2001  Page: 10-A
By the time Alabama was writing its constitution in 1901, the issue of home rule was being raised across the nation. State legislatures had tired of spending much of their time on local matters and had begun delegating more power to local governments.
The relationship of counties and cities to their state govern ments is different from states' relationship to the national government. At the founding of the country, the 13 colonies were essentially 13 sovereign nations. Those states joined together and, in signing the U.S. Constitution, agreed to give up those powers listed in the Constitution to the central government.
Cities and counties were creations of the individual states. The powers given to the cities and counties are granted either in state constitutions or through legislative acts.
In Alabama, cities are divided into classes based on populatio…

COUNTIES BARKING FOR BITE OF POWER FROM CAPITOL

COUNTIES BARKING FOR BITE OF POWER FROM CAPITOL
THOMAS SPENCER News staff writer
Publication Date: July 8, 2001  Page: 01-A

The incessant barking of his neighbor's hounds sent John S. Norman of Westover on an odyssey into the heart of the Alabama Constitution of 1901.
After pleading with his neighbor, after suffering the barking morning, noon and night, Norman turned to his county commissioner for help. But he found that the county lacked authority to pass an animal-control ordinance.
He got the answer many Alabamians get when seeking solutions from county officials for problems, petty or profound: The county can't do any thing about it. You'll have to go the Legislature.
The journey to Montgomery is a familiar one for frustrated Alabamians and the local officials who serve them. The Alabama Constitution concentrates power in Montgomery, leaving the Legislature to decide many local is sues.
That applies particularly to county governments, which can't pass ordinances,…

MOST AGREE 1901 STATE CONSTITUTION TOO BULKY

MOST AGREE 1901 STATE CONSTITUTION TOO BULKY
THOMAS SPENCER News staff writer

Publication Date: May 27, 2001  Page: 01-A

When Alabamians went to the polls in November, voters across the state were asked if residents of Fayette County could tax themselves to support their volunteer fire and rescue squads.
They also had to decide whether:
Winston County residents could tax themselves to maintain county roads.
Greene County could change its court costs.
Tiny White Hall in Lowndes County could hold bingo games for charity.
When the votes were tallied, we, the people of Alabama, had approved 40 amendments to the Alabama Constitution, the state's fundamental law.
To the constitution, voters added 19 amendments altering county retirement systems for sheriffs, four creating county economic develop organizations, three allowing individual counties to set their own court costs, two authorizing bingo in specific jurisdictions and one each setting the voting hours for Marshall County, allowi…

LESS REDNECK, MORE RIVIERA

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BEACHFRONT DEVELOPMENT PUSHING OUT A WAY OF LIFE
THOMAS SPENCER News staff writer
Publication Date: March 18, 2001 
GULF SHORES A black stretch limousine turns onto the palm-lined drive and heads toward the spa, tennis courts and posh 20-story beachfront condos of the Beach Club Resort on Fort Morgan Road.
Across the street, looking forlorn and faded from the Gulf Coast sun, The General Lee, a genuine imitation souped-up Dukes of Hazzard Dodge Charger, sits with a "for sale" sign on the dash.
The Fort Morgan peninsula, a narrow strip of land running west from Gulf Shores to the mouth of Mobile Bay, is the last bit of "country" on the Alabama Coast. But the same development pressures that transformed Orange Beach and Gulf Shores - now a long march of concrete condos with gates and guard shacks - is pushing out the Fort Morgan Road, the last miles of the untamed Alabama coast.
Property values are shooting up as golf resorts and Mediterranean-style garden homes replace scru…