Andalusia School Board and City team up over tax dispute

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Andalusia, AL (WSFA) - After battling with the state for nearly a year, the Andalusia City School board has a new ally—their city.

That battle is over whether the state should allow the city to vote on a new 3 mil tax that would help fund the school system.

And it's a question in which Superintendent Beverly McAnulty wants a clear answer.

McAnulty said, "We need that resolved, particularly now that we are in this economic crisis."

The last response the school board received from the state was a letter from the Attorney General.

McAnulty said, "That letter said he couldn't render an opinion."

Here's why:  The state says the school system already collects 17 mils of funding, 10 from the city and 7 from the county, which is more than the minimum 10 mils mandated for all school systems by Amendment 2.

But the school system says the 10 from the city shouldn't count.

McAnulty said, "The Amendment said general education, and ours is earmarked.  So, we thought all along with it being earmarked that it was not counted in the 10 mil match."

According to the school system, they are only receiving 7 mils, which is why they want the option to collect 3 more.

Now, the city is now joining in on the legal battle.

"The mayor and the council are concerned, " McAnulty said, "Because it is money from their resources.  We just need a clear answer."

But even if they win the fight against the state, they'll have another battle on their hands—convincing the community to vote for a new tax."

Andalusia Resident Julie McDonald said, "If it were for the schools, I would vote for it.  I have 4 kids, 3 of which are already in elementary school."

But Edwin Wiggins feels otherwise.  He said, "I think we are taxed enough already.  I just hate to see people have another tax put on them."

McAnulty said that while she realizes that it's a tough time for the community as well, folks have to decide what kind of educational system they want.

"We can stop the buses, we can let more teachers go, but what will that mean for the kids?"

She says, when you break down the numbers, most folks would only see a slight increase in taxes.

She said, "Even when times are hard for individuals and families, they know which things to invest in."

For now, the school board and the city are taking things one step at a time, hoping the state will give then the answer they've been waiting for.

Those extra 3 mills would bring in an extra $300, 000 annually for the school system.

The city says, regardless of what the state rules, they'll continue to provide their 10 mils of funding.

©2009 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.