Representative plans to block Montgomery County property tax referendum

Representative plans to block Montgomery County property tax referendum
If lawmakers pass the bill, it would go to voters for final approval in November. (Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - An Alabama House committee passed a bill Tuesday morning that seeks to increase Montgomery County property taxes to benefit Montgomery Public Schools.

The committee made up of the members of Montgomery County’s House delegation voted 4-3 to pass the bill.

It will now go to the House floor for a vote. If lawmakers pass the bill, it would go to voters for final approval in November.

However, it only takes one lawmaker from Montgomery County’s delegation to contest it on the House floor to kill it, and Republican Rep. Reed Ingram said he will.

Ingram, who voted against the bill in the committee vote, said proposing a new tax and putting it on the November ballot when the economy is struggling would be a “kick in someone’s gut.” Ingram said he would support the bill if it had an amendment to wait to put the tax increase on the ballot until after January.

Democratic Rep. Kirk Hatcher filed the bill Monday. Hatcher said he wants to let voters decide if it is the right time to raise the tax.

“We have been funding our school system at the absolute bare minimum," Hatcher said.

The bill would increase the ad valorem tax on all taxable property in Montgomery County except the town limits of Pike Road.

Montgomery Public Schools currently collects 10 mills. The bill proposes increasing the rate to 18.5 mills.

In February, the Montgomery County Commission voted in favor of sending the proposed tax increase to state lawmakers.

In March, the Montgomery County Board of Education decided to hire lobbyists in hopes of moving forward with an election. At the meeting in March, school board member Jannah Bailey made a passionate plea for increased funding for the school system.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.