VIDEO: Crucial School funding tax renewals to be on June 5th Ballot
March 14, 2018
Southern Torch (3431 articles)
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VIDEO: Crucial School funding tax renewals to be on June 5th Ballot

PHOTO: DeKalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow discusses the importance of the tax renewals to DeKalb County and Fort Payne City Schools. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

tyler@southerntorch.com

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Scroll Down for Video) At yesterday’s meeting of the DeKalb County Commission, resolutions were approved for Education Property Tax renewals to be placed on the June 5th, 2018 ballot for a public vote. The tax renewals are crucial for funding DeKalb County and Fort Payne City Schools.

Five resolutions were passed; each representing another item on the June 5th ballot that the public can cast a, “yes” or “no” vote on. If the renewals pass, the property taxes collected for educational funds will be extended for 30 years. The five measures combined represents around $5 million in funding for DeKalb County Schools and $500,000 for Fort Payne City Schools per year.

The tax measures do not represent new taxes, but renewals of existing property taxes collected for public educational funds.

DeKalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow began the discussion: “Today, the county wide tax renewal is being brought before us. We have (attorneys) Mr. Woody Sanderson and Mr. Alan Ziegler with us today concerning these property tax renewal resolutions for the board of educations, so I’m going to ask Mr. Sanderson if he would to come to the Microphone, and give us a brief overview of what we need to know.”

Sanderson then explained that he is representing DeKalb County Schools and Ziegler is representing Fort Payne City Schools. He also explained that by law the resolutions required 200 signatures from both Fort Payne City Schools and DeKalb County Schools to be brought before the commission. Sanderson said that more than the required 200 signatures had been collected. He also explained that it is important to get the resolutions passed within the time frame, because, “the time it takes to get (the resolutions) on the ballot is fast approaching.”

“I think we really need to get it in the next 10 days or so to make sure it gets printed on the ballots, and it’s ready in time for absentee ballots and all that. We worked backwards from a timeline, and this was an important time to get it to you because of that,” said Sanderson.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett and Fort Payne City Schools Superintendent Jim Cunningham then explained the importance of the measures to local educational funding.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett at Tuesday’s DeKalb County Commission Meeting. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

Dr. Barnett said: “I appreciate the opportunity for you guys to consider these tax resolutions. It has been a process; I appreciate it Mr. Sanderson, Mr. Ziegler, Mr. Cunningham… We’ve worked well on this together. We understand the importance of this for our school districts.”

“We are required by law to have a 10 mil match, and of course without these resolutions we would not have that,” continued Barnett. “So that is very important for our school district. This money helps fund many things that we all believe we need and we all know we need, like school resource officers, which is a joint effort between the county commission as well as our local schools. So I appreciate the consideration. There has been a lot of time and effort.”

Fort Payne City Schools Superintendent Jim Cunningham at Tuesday’s DeKalb County Commission Meeting. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

Fort Payne City Schools Superintendent Jim Cunningham then said: “I also appreciate your support, and you know the necessity of this. It is a renewal…. we are not asking for more. I would make you aware that even with this renewal we’re are still going to be very low as far as local funding, but without it, as you’ve just heard, we aren’t going to receive our foundation funds. So I appreciate your support. We have had a good working team.”

“Mr. Sanderson, Mr. Ziegler, Dr. Barnett…..,” continued Cunningham. “You’ve been good to work with. I look forward to seeing this move forward. I will be 87-years-old when we have to (renew) this again. I’m going to vote yes this time because it’s necessary for the kids, I’m going to vote yes at 87, and hope I even seen more.”

District II Commissioner Scot Westbrook asked, “What would the estimated total of this be; benefit towards the school systems of DeKalb County per year?”

“There is 14 and a half mils of DeKalb County. Each “mil” is estimated around $360,000. When you look at it all together you are talking about $5 million or so,” answered Barnett.

“The one mil countywide tax this past year, was worth $135,000 for Fort Payne City Schools,” then said Cunningham. “The 3 mil was worth $400,782.00 for Fort Payne City (Schools), and that is the two that was split. And we split them based on pupil numbers; it’s about a 25 (percent)/ 75 split. In Fort Payne City, the millage is $154,000 per mil, so that vote for a extension of the 3 mil would be close to half a million dollars. That’s our operating money, we need those funds to stay in business.”

County Administrator Matt Sharp, who also serves on the DeKalb County Board of Education then said, “On the county schools, that’s all the county’s educational funds; there is no other property taxes for education. This is probably the first time in the county’s history that we have all these renewed like this at the same time. It is very important, and it’s one of the most important decisions we’ll have to make; putting it on the ballot.”

Then before the vote, Harcrow said, “Gentlemen, I’ve been here a long time, and it’s the first time that all of them have come up at the same time. I want to assure you, this is the most important vote you’ll make in your tenure.”

“I want the general public to understand how important this is; not just to the children that go to school today, but for almost a generation to come. It’s very important that we do this. This commission is very supportive of you all at the board; not only the county board, but also the city board. We appreciate what all you do. And we stress to the general public how important a, ‘yes’ vote is on this particular issue,” concluded Harcrow.

Harcrow then called for an individual vote, and the resolutions passed unanimously.

Watch the Video:

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