The Alabama Senate will be hearing the pre-filed Senate Bill 23 this session.

The bill was first read on March 5 and was sent to the Committee on Governmental Affairs. The bill introduced by Senator Bill Elliott, a former Baldwin County Commissioner who serves District 32.

Many believe that SB-23 has the ability to financially cripple several Alabama municipalities, including those in Jackson County and would also place a larger burden on the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, who is currently working with a skeleton crew and add additional burdens on volunteer fire departments.

Under existing law, the police jurisdiction of a municipality with a population of more than 6,000 extends three miles from the corporate limits and those without a population of 6,000 extends one and one-half miles from the corporate limits. The planning jurisdiction of a municipality including the approval of subdivisions, extends for five miles from the corporate limits of a municipality under existing law.

This bill, if passed would provide that the police jurisdiction would only include property in the corporate limits of the municipality and would limit the jurisdiction of a municipal planning commission to the corporate limits of a municipality. It would also repeal a law that authorizes a municipality to levy business license taxes and sales and use taxes in the police jurisdiction of the municipality at one half the rate as levied inside the corporate limits.
The bill would remove City Fire Department protection and City Police protection from those who live outside the city limits. It also has the ability to raise home owners insurance rates to those right outside the limits.

Elliott stated, “Alabama is one of only three states that permits municipalities to impose police, planning, and other exterritorial jurisdictions in areas well outside of their actual municipal limits. In short, Alabama law currently allows towns and cities to tax, regulate, and police citizens who can’t vote for or against the municipal leaders governing them. This is fundamentally wrong, and I have introduced Senate Bill 23 to stop it. Recently, I listened to a well-meaning group of mayors and city councilors bemoan the lack of tax revenue in their cities, lament the high cost of providing public safety services and ask state legislators to impose more taxes. In the very next breath, however, many of these same elected officials argued that they should continue to provide municipal services to folks well outside their city limits, even if it is a financial loss and a detriment to the citizens they actually represent. If you live in a city, as most Alabamians do, you want your city’s revenue spent on your city’s public safety, parks, sidewalks and libraries; not in the county. I say keep your money in your city. The root problem is that state law currently requires that the revenue raised from business licenses, sales and use taxes be spent in the exterritorial jurisdictions in which it is raised. I know that many cities can have trouble documenting these expenditures, as required by state law; therefore, I don’t know how anyone can be sure that these expenses are being spent in accordance with state law. I can only imagine the mess that an audit of these funds would cause. The bottom line is that if folks want to receive the benefit of city services, they should annex into the city and city officials should keep their services focused on the people they are elected to serve. Senate Bill 23 is pretty simple: if you live in a city, you pay its municipal taxes and submit to its regulations; if you live outside the municipal limits, you don’t. In a city, you get to vote for the officials who tax, regulate and police you, and under SB-23, your city leaders won’t be spending your hard-earned municipal tax dollars on folks out in the county.”

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