TALLAPOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Well over 100 citizens packed a second-floor courtroom Monday morning in Tallapoosa County to see how county commissioners would vote on a sales tax renewal.
When it was over, commissioners had voted unanimously to continue the current penny sales tax increase it passed more than three years ago.
The vote came about 30 minutes into the Tallapoosa County Commission meeting.
“All in favor of the motion, please signify by raising your right hand. All opposed? Motion carries unanimously,” it was announced.
Before the vote, one businessman told the commission he preferred a property tax increase.
“The sales tax in Alex City is 10 percent. A lot of times on a thousand dollar purchase, I will lose that sale because the sales tax is 10 percent," the man said.
“I just ask you commissioners pass this," said a coach’s wife.
Many in the community actually prefer a property tax increase but such a proposal has failed at least twice in recent years in Tallapoosa County.
The goal when the current sales tax increase was passed more than three years ago was to help the county school district meet its state-mandated reserve and more. That’s been done.
Since that time, however, the county and the Alex City school districts felt it was time to start making improvements to their schools. The commission agreed.
“We’ll provide the revenue to the school boards," said Commission Chairman T.C. Coley. "They will be the one to incur the debt. They will coordinate. If their debt instrument is a combination of short term debt and long term debt, then they will identify the bond counsel or the local bank they will partner with. We basically, we levied the tax and collect the revenue.”
The renewal of the current sales tax generates around $3 million a year which splits evenly among the school districts.
School leaders in Alex City, Tallapoosa County and Tallassee say their capital projects will begin immediately in terms of planning. With the passage, school leaders in Alex City are looking at building a new high school, renovating Jim Pearson Elementary and remodeling the remaining schools.
“Also putting 21st century learning in a 70-year-old school is very difficult," said Alex City public school superintendent Dr. Keith Lankford.
“We’re also going to address upgrading classrooms," said Tallapoosa County public school superintendent Joe Windle.
For the first time the county and Alex City school districts will have big projects going on simultaneously.
“And the resources that will bring to Tallapoosa County businesses," said Windle.
There was also another first today. Never before can anyone remember a standing ovation over a tax renewal.
“In my 21 years of public service, that’s the first time we’ve gotten a standing ovation on a vote," said Tallapoosa County Commission Chairman T.C. Coley.
$80 million worth of renovations and new construction are on the way for the school districts in Tallapoosa County.
The Tallassee city school district will get a small share of the sales tax revenues for its need.