Elmore County BOE presents property tax proposal to commission

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 10:03 PM CST
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WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) - The Elmore County Board of Education has taken another step forward in their push to increase property taxes to support the school system.

Superintendent Richard Dennis came before the Elmore County Commission Monday to present the status of their current finances and discuss possible uses for the additional funds from their proposed tax increase.

The board is asking for the commission to advance a constitutional amendment to create a special election in early 2023. The special election would allow voters to decide whether to pass an additional 8 mills to be used for capital improvement projects and educational programs.

The school system currently collects 10 mills in property taxes. The board is asking for 8 mills, but one mill is about to expire. That would make the total 17 mills.

If passed, the additional 7 mills would bring in about $7 million more a year to the school system. Nine percent of funds would go to Tallassee City Schools.

Dennis said the additional funding will help meet the need of their growing student population. Dennis said the school system has seen an increase in 653 students over the last five years.

“We’re operating at a foundational level,” Dennis said to the commission. “We don’t ever get far above that foundation level because we just don’t have the funding to go that far.”

Dennis presented to the commission what the additional revenue would be used for. The money would be used across the the school system for maintenance costs to install new carpet, roofing, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, and purchase more buses.

The money would also be used to maintain STEM programming in schools, hire more school nurses, and fund added extra curricular activities like music and art.

Among some of the largest new capital projects proposed:

  • Additional classroom space at Elmore County High School
  • A new high school in Holtville
  • A new competition gym at Millbrook Middle School
  • A new indoor football practice facility at Stanhope Elmore High School
  • A new indoor football practice facility and performing arts facility at Wetumpka High School
  • Expansion to Redland Middle School
  • Expansion to Tallassee High School

According to the Elmore County School board, for a residential property with an appraised value of $100,000, a property owner can expect to pay $100 more per year in property taxes. Under this proposal, $80 would be invested into the education system, while $20 would be invested in public safety, public health and broadband. The increase would be more for homes valued higher.

For agricultural and/or timber property under the highest current use categories ($532 and $794 per acre), a property owner would see an increase of $0.05 per acre for agricultural property and $0.08 per acre for timber property.

Dennis said he is optimistic that the commission will vote in support of advancing the proposal to the Alabama Legislature.

“I hope they will. I think they understand what our needs are,” Dennis said.

“As a county commission we fully support our education system and the elected officials in the board of education,” said Elmore County Commission Chairmen Troy Stubbs. “As a county commission we are excited for their vision and the hopes that they have and their expertise in this area. We will move this forward over the next weeks. I would encourage all of the people in Elmore County to reach out to an Elmore County Board of Education board member or the superintendent and learn more.”

The next step in moving this proposal forward is a public hearing set for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28.

If the County Commission votes to support the measure, a request would then be made of the Alabama Legislature to set a special election for the increase.

Dennis says he hopes the special election would take place in early 2023 with the first tax collection of a passed increase starting Oct. 1, 2024.

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