Crossroads of North Alabama

Priceville approves fuel-tax increase

PRICEVILLE — The Town Council on Monday approved a 1-cent fuel tax increase and a fiscal 2018 budget that included funding to start work on a new fire station as well as hire an additional police officer.

Meanwhile, councilmen discussed an emerging plan to build from scratch a downtown in the fast-growing town of about 3,300 people, seeking public input at an upcoming open house.

The council unanimously approved the ordinance to increase the town’s gasoline tax from 3 cents to 4 cents per gallon and the diesel tax from 1 cent to 2 cents per gallon. The increase is expected to generate about $130,000 annually that Mayor Melvin Duran said would go toward street improvements.

The council also approved a $2.89 million budget for fiscal 2018, up from $2.68 million in fiscal 2017. The new budget projects a hefty surplus, predicting nearly $3.4 million in revenue.

Duran described it as an attempt to be conservative, noting the town currently has a fund balance of roughly $2.6 million in the bank.

Before voting, the council added to the budget $100,000 to begin work on the town’s second fire station, which is slated to be built adjacent Priceville High School.

Councilman Joe Lubisco Jr. said Morgan County Schools officials have informally agreed to donate about 0.5 acres for the new station, which would serve the school and multiple new subdivisions in the vicinity.

The land acquisition is still pending approval by the Morgan County Board of Education as attorneys for both parties review the deal. Priceville officials tentatively plan to begin construction on the new station next year with completion expected by 2021.

Councilman Charles Black said the Insurance Service Office recommended the new station, which will re-position existing equipment, and that it could result in residents seeing better property insurance rates.

“We’re trying to improve safety in the community as well,” Lubisco said.