Cantrell, on the other hand, strongly favors the breakaway. Indeed, as an unsuccessful mayoral candidate in 2004 running against Kenny Clemons, Cantrell’s campaign advertising featured two main points: support for a separate system, and no property taxes. That remains the case today.
Cantrell owns the Mutual Finance chain of consumer-loan offices, as well as several franchises of the Badcock & More furniture store chain. Like Nowlin, he believes that the proposed property tax won’t bring in enough revenue, as well as being a burden on homeowners and businesses.
Instead, Cantrell proposes the extension of the 1-cent sales tax increase that is scheduled to “sunset” on Dec. 31, 2014. The increase was passed by the Gardendale City Council to pay off existing debt on local projects, as well as economic development.
“The Harvey report [the feasibility study commissioned by the city] said the property tax would bring in about $800,000, whereas sales tax is bringing in about $1.25 million,” Cantrell said. “We have so many older residents in Gardendale. Why should they pay for a city school system? With a sales tax, you have more of the people who are benefiting from the system paying their fair share.”
Cantrell has had a few people publicly support him, and claims that others have expressed private support but don’t want their names made public for fear of repercussions.