MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There’s a chance your property taxes could be going up soon to fund a cash-strapped Montgomery public school system. The school board has proposed a modest 6 mill increase that would have to be approved first by voters.
School officials say the additional funds are crucial for Montgomery’s future. If the proposal were to pass, what it means is that 1 mill is equal to one-tenth of every penny that makes up 10 percent of a home’s assessed value. For instance, for a $100,000 home, the proposed increase would mean about 60 extra dollars.
This is money Montgomery Public Schools said it really needs. MPS is one of only seven districts in Alabama with more than 20,000 students.
It’s larger than systems like Shelby County, Huntsville, and Birmingham City, but receiving less property tax dollar revenue than all six. Just ask CSFO Arthuer Watts whose spent the last four months balancing MPS' budgets.
“I did serve as CFO in Birmingham for about 14 years. We was always in the 20s,” said Watts.
According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, Birmingham City Schools collected 24 mills this year - less students than MPS more than double the dollars.
Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean said local and state officials know something needs to be done.
“We had already decided to put it up for a vote in the first or second quarter,” said Dean.
A vote to potentially increase millage in Montgomery County - a resolution the school board approved this week.
According to the Montgomery County Revenue Department, this year MPS will receive about $36.2 million in ad valorem tax dollars. Raising the millage rate by 6 mill is expected to bring in an additional $17 million.
But Watts said about $170 to $200 million are needed to renovate and repair the district’s facilities.
Then there are other crucial expenses. When asked if he saw himself being able to meet requirements in future budgets without more revenue Watts said he did not.
“I do not. I also see where there will be a number of adjustments to personnel and other things that will have to be done,” he said.
For the first time in years, MPS submitted a budget that included the state’s required one-month’s reserve, but Watts said that was in part because of the Georgia Washington sale to Pike Road that brought in about $10 million. That was a one-time revenue source.
Watts said, without a solution, balancing future budgets would require “drastic changes.”
Dean said voters can expect to see this issue on a special ballot in April or May of next year.