The tax would raise $7.5 million a year, according to an estimate made a decade ago by the Legislative Fiscal Office. The money would go to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex authority.
A lobbyist for the authority, Johnny Crawford, said the money would be used to maintain and renovate the convention complex.
State lawmakers approved the tax in 2001, but the law includes a provision that the tax couldn’t be collected until counsel for any bonds issued by the BJCC authority certified that there would be enough money from the tax and other sources to repay $300 million in bonds. That hasn’t happened.
Senate Bill 323 by Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, would erase that provision and allow immediate collection of the tax.
Senators who represent the county voted 3-4 against the bill. Waggoner said he would not try again this spring to pass the bill.
Voting for the bill were Waggoner, Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, and Sen. Priscilla Dunn, D-Bessemer. Voting against it were Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook, Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, and Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham.
Waggoner said the vehicle rental tax in Birmingham now is 2.25 percent, compared to 16 percent in Charlotte, 14 percent in Memphis, 13 percent in Nashville, 7 percent in Jacksonville, Fla., and 6 percent in Louisville. He said Birmingham’s rate still would be lower, even after an increase of 3 percentage points.
Smitherman recalled that lawmakers in 2001 approved the vehicle rental tax in a bid to raise enough money to finance construction of a domed stadium.
Joe Fine, a lobbyist hired to represent Enterprise rental car company, said that more than 70 percent of vehicles rented in Jefferson County are rented by area residents, not out-of-towners, and that Senate Bill 323 in effect would be a tax increase on local people.