Montgomery County commissioner pushing for property tax increase to help schools

Montgomery County commissioner pushing for property tax increase to help schools

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery County commissioners are looking to create long-term financial solutions for Montgomery Public Schools.

Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Board of Education approved its budget for the new fiscal year. The spending plan shows more than $231 million in expenditures. That’s about $9.7 million more than the school system is expected to bring in.

Money from the sale of Georgia Washington Middle School to Pike Road will go to help pay for the shortfall.

District 2 County Commissioner Elton Dean says the sale of the school is a short-term budget boost.

“That’s for this budget year, but the next budget year they don’t have a Georgia Washington to sell or other properties to sell to get that kind of money,” said Dean.

Dean believes the best option to generate more revenue for the system is increasing property taxes from the minimum state requirement of 10 mills to 16 mills, which he says would generate $18 million for schools.

“I’m talking about doing more. Giving the Montgomery School System more than a band-aid approach. We’re talking about some real, true funding. 6 mills is not really enough. We need probably 15 or 20 mill increase, but I know we can get 6 mill without going to the legislature," Dean said.

Dean says the 6 mill increase is not enough and what we really need is a 15 mill increase to bring the Montgomery Public School system closer to neighboring school districts like Pike Road School System.

Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Moore says she agrees with Dean’s efforts to raise money for the system. She released this statement to WSFA:

“Our county commission is a critical partner for the children of Montgomery County and Montgomery Public Schools. We welcome the opportunity to work with the commission as we explore the avenues available to increase resources for our schools. I agree with Chairman Dean and Board President Robert Porterfield when both have stated publicly that we are underfunded. We received the least amount of local support of any school system our size in the state – only the state required minimum of 10 mills. We need additional revenue to improve our schools and help our students reach their goals."

Dean believes the additional funds will address the financial concerns that prompted the state’s school intervention. MPS is required by the state to have a reserve fund of about $19 million. The AdvancedED accrediting agency will return in a few months to determine how the system is doing financially.

Dean says the money could go towards things like increasing teacher salaries, making building improvements and helping give students the resources needed to succeed.

“We always say it’s the Capital of Dreams, so I want us to make sure we do what we need to do to keep the dream alive," Dean said.

He didn’t have exact numbers on the financial impact of the tax increase on Montgomery citizens but emphasized the importance of getting the funds to help schools.

Based on property tax calculations, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay between $20 to $60 more per year in property tax.

Commissioners are expected to vote on having a special election to vote on the tax increase before the end of the year. If approved, they expect to have a special election in either the first or second quarter of 2019.

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