Opp Officials: Car Dealership Leaving Impacts Sales Tax Revenue

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By Catalina Trivino

For the first time in nearly 100 years, people in Opp can no longer shop for a new car in their city.

For the last 70 years, the J.M. Jackson Chevrolet Buick dealership had two locations in Opp. Now, people in town are looking at the empty buildings and empty lots that used to belong to the dealership -- which means those looking to buy a new car in Opp, will have to leave town.

"It impacts the city greatly because what it does is it removes our money that we were getting tax revenue from Johnnie Jackson to our school system. We'll no longer receive that money," Said Opp Mayor, John Bartholomew.

Bartholomew says that's about $40,000 dollars less a year for the Opp city school system.

But President of the J.M. Jackson dealership, Johnnie Jackson, says it was not a personal decision to move to Sanford, rather a business decision. He says he had to move after all the Covington County G.M. companies consolidated.

"When the very local dealership here did not sell G.M. products anymore, it was only the wise business decision to locate in a central area, where we could serve all of Covington County," Said Jackson, who's new dealership is located off Highway 84 in between Opp and Andalusia.

About 10 years ago, another building that used to be a Ford dealership that sold new vehicles closed down, as well

So will not having the business leave a hole in the city?

"I don't think it'll be that big of a deal. I think it'll be a little bit more inconvenient," Said Opp resident, Neal Presley.

"[The] biggest thing is the tax dollars going out of our city. That's a big amount of tax dollars just gone... and in a small town, that makes a big difference," Said another resident, Chris Dunbar.

And it's a big difference Bartholomew says the city will have to compensate with something else. He says the city is looking into possibly purchasing the old dealership building downtown.

But could Opp see a new car dealership in the future?

"We have a lot of companies looking at us. Could it be possibly another dealership? Yes. Opp is a town of opportunity for growth," Said Bartholomew.