A proposed 1-cent sales tax in Alma to pay for future city projects was voted down Tuesday.

The tax measure failed by 17 votes, with 121 against and 104 in favor of the city-wide tax.

Voters have approved the 1-cent tax in three separate elections since 1998 for specific projects, said Mayor John Ballentine in a previous interview.

This time the 1-cent tax would have gone to the city’s general fund to be allocated for use rather than toward debt service for a specific project.

City Attorney Chuck Baker was present - in an unofficial aspect - at the final tally, but was unable to comment on what the city’s future plans might be.

"Of course, it won’t affect the rest of the year’s budget, but come fall the city council members will have to make some hard decisions," Baker said.

The city’s current 1-cent tax, which the failed tax would have replaced, is set to sunset at the end of the year. Ballentine has said the tax generates about $1 million for the city each year.

"If that is true, I don’t know how you can make up that number without cutting services," Baker said.

Previously the tax has been used to pay for items such as new fire stations and trucks, and water-sewer improvements.

While similar uses were being discussed if the tax had been renewed, each project would have had to be approved by the city council.

Projects that might have been paid for with the tax include street-scaping, road rebuilds, and general improvements to the city’s downtown area, Mark Yardley, Alma public works director, said previously.

New fire trucks and expanded fire stations and more water-sewer improvements also were on the agenda, Yardley said.

Going forward with any of these projects was contingent on the passing of this 1-cent tax, Yardley said.

Costs for some of the planned projects - particularly roads - is into the millions, and without approval of the tax, the city has no way to cover the expense, he said.

City officials still will have time to put together a project-specific tax ballot before the current tax sunsets later this year.