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Possible tax increase creates controversy

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CLAYTON, AL (WSFA) -

On election day, Barbour County residents have a decision to make--raise property taxes or not?

"Many people are under the assumption that we did not need money or we were not in dire straights," says Barbour County School Superintendent, Jimmie Fryer.

Fryer says the school system was forced to borrow money to make ends meet this year.

He believes the funds generated from a new 4-mil property tax would prevent that.

"Would help ensure more financial stability for our system," adds Fryer.

But of course, talk of a tax increase has locals...talking.

"We own property here and we're struggling as it is now and for it to go up. We just we can't afford it," says Clayton resident Georgiana Thomas.

"Yes, I'm greatly in favor of it and we need it very bad for our kids and our school system," says Barbour County resident, Leroy Rumph.

There is just as much support for the tax as there is against it. That's why the superintendent wants to make sure everyone knows how much they'd be paying if the tax increase passes.

"Only $4 for every $10,000 of the value of their appraised property," says Fryer.

Which means for a $100-thousand dollar house...that's $40 additional dollars in taxes each year.

Still, it's too much for some.

"The schools probably need it, but they could probably tighten their belts and be a little bit more efficient than they are," adds Thomas.

"It's not gonna go up that much. Anything to help the school kids," adds Rumph.

Fryer says if it passes, this would be the first passed tax referendum for Barbour County schools since integration in the 1960's.

If voters pass the tax increase it would go into effect for 30 years and generate $10-million dollars for the school system.

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