PHOTO: In response to the 2011 tornadoes, for one weekend each year citizens can purchase disaster preparedness items tax free. (DeKalb County EMA)
By C. Campbell, Staff Writer
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — When the calendar reaches the end of the summer, and children all across the country prepare to return to school for another year of education, many stores offer a tax free weekend as a way that school supplies and clothing for the upcoming academic year can be obtained a little more easily.
In Alabama, however, this is not the only tax free weekend recognized by stores. In late February, another weekend is set aside for a relatively simple purpose: provide a break in purchasing vital materials. Instead of notebooks and pencils, though, this weekend is for supplies that would be of the utmost importance in case of disaster emergencies.
“Every year, the state EMA wants people to prepare for the upcoming tornado season,” said Ricky Harcrow, the DeKalb County Commission President. In order to have this tax free weekend, cities and counties across the state have to pass a resolution, essentially showing that they are willing to participate.
Harcrow explained that the DeKalb County Commission passed this resolution during their first meeting in January. Once the state has received the notification that the resolution has been passed, the individual municipalities are officially informed which weekend will be the tax free weekend.
Harcrow also elaborated on what sorts of items would be covered during this weekend. They include larger supplies, all the way down to smaller things, “like emergency lights, batteries, etc.”
Harcrow went on to explain that, while locations throughout Alabama may pass the resolution allowing them to participate, stores in that city or county can opt out of offering these items tax free, though, according to him, virtually every store in DeKalb County usually chooses to take part in the weekend.
According to Harcrow, having this tax free weekend on emergency supplies came about as a response to the tornado outbreak of April 2011. While nobody can be forced to purchase items on the tax free list that weekend, Harcrow expressed the hope that the citizens of DeKalb County would take advantage of this opportunity and have the resources necessary to cope should a disaster strike.
As Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Being able to purchase these supplies without worrying about sales tax means being able to stock up that much more. And those additional ounces of prevention could make all the difference.