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Shoppers in the city of Clay are now paying half the local grocery tax they were formerly paying after a move to give citizens relief by the city council.

"We're excited to be able to offer some financial relief to the citizens of Clay and those who purchase groceries from our providing stores," said Clay City Councilman Bo Johnson.

In August, Clay City Manager Ronnie Dixon proposed a 1-2% decrease in the city's grocery tax, and the city council decided on a 2% decrease. The council voted to amend the city ordinance in a 5 to 0 vote. Instead of paying a 4% local tax on groceries, shoppers will now only pay 2%, driving the overall tax down from 10% to 8%.

Mayor Charles Webster said he is thankful the city made the cut, which will be in effect for two years.

"We are financially able to do it, so I don't see any reason for us not to do it," Webster said. "We've managed money well over the years and I think it's time for us to give back."

Some state lawmakers applauded the city of Clay for its efforts after the legislature failed to kill the state grocery tax in the last session. State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) said she hopes the city sets an example for other cities. State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) told 1819 News that he had never heard of a city taking the reins in this way to help out citizens.

Webster said the city didn't make the move to make other cities that have not done it look bad, but he said they want to help people get through a difficult financial time. He said on day one, people were already taking advantage of the tax break.

"We've already had people taking notice and people going to the Pig [Piggly Wiggly] today, so that's a good sign," Webster added. "We really haven't publicized it, but we are now going to be able to let everybody know because of news organizations like you [1819 News]."

The items listed under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are eligible for the tax cut. Qualification for SNAP benefits isn't necessary to enjoy the tax decrease, but that is simply how the city is defining "groceries" for the change in its amendment to the grocery tax ordinance.

Four outlets in Clay offer SNAP-eligible items: Publix, the two Dollar Generals and Piggy Wiggly, including Ace Hardware inside the Piggly Wiggly.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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