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Staff Photo by Angela Lewis Foster/ The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 8/22/14. The Jackson County Courthouse is in Scottsboro, Ala. On Aug. 18, 2015, voters will weigh in on a one-cent sales tax increase.

After a couple of years of budget struggles, months of discussing a proposed sales tax hike solution and multiple public meetings with residents, Jackson County, Ala., voters will head to the polls today to decide for themselves.

The only item on the ballot: a one-cent, countywide sales tax increase.

The increase idea did not get a warm welcome from some residents, who contend it will push Jackson County's municipal rates past the 10-percent mark and push business elsewhere.

Polls open

Polls for the Jackson County special election will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT. All county precincts will be open.

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Scottsboro resident Carol England worried back in June that double-digit sale tax rates could cause people to shop in counties where the tax is lower. Some other residents have said they understand the budget dilemma and the reason behind the hike idea.

County Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges said county leaders have made as many cuts as possible without seriously impacting county services, and he maintains sales taxes are the best way to generate revenue and plan for the future.

Hodges said the proposed penny increase would generate an estimated $3.3 million a year to offset a $1 million to $2 million deficit. County revenues have declined, the Tennessee Valley Authority reduced its payments in lieu of taxes, and the county has not been able either to restore the money from other sources or trim its budgets to match its revenue.

Officials say the county general fund now gets no share of sales taxes collected locally. Jackson County's revenue is derived mostly from property tax, so the penny boost, if approved by voters, would be the first to go into the county general fund, according to officials.

"Most of what I'm hearing is sounding positive, but I know there have been others in opposition," Jackson County Probate Office recording clerk Zebbie McAllister said Monday.

Wet weather forecast for Tuesday could affect voter turnout, officials said.

Polls for the special election will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT. All county precincts will be open.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or twitter.com/BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.

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