Schools looking to replace 7.3 mills tax
Wilson: This is not a tax increase
The Hartselle City Council will have a public hearing April 28 at 7 p.m. on a proposed act that will replace a 7.3-mill property tax for education, which is set to expire in 2017.
School Superintendent Dr. Vic Wilson said residents are currently paying a 7.3-mill property tax, which was originally approved in 1957 and renewed again in 1987. Instead of calling for a countywide vote to renew the old tax beyond Sept. 30, 2017, Wilson said they want to replace the property tax with one that only has to be approved by Hartselle voters.
If it is passed by the city council and state legislature this spring, a referendum among Hartselle voters only would be held this fall to approve the tax.
“This is not a new tax, and it’s not a tax increase,” Wilson said. “We had to change some of the language of the act so that only Hartselle voters would be voting on this measure instead of putting it to a countywide vote.”
Chief schools financial officer Jonathan Craft said the 7.3-mill property tax brought in $930,000 in 2014 for its local revenue.
Hartselle board member Jennifer Sittason was concerned that the language of the act could negatively affect voters.
“I don’t like that is says ‘tax increase,’” Sittason said. “That’s not what this is. I’m just concerned that it could be confusing to residents what this is trying to do.”
Board President Monty Vest said that the school system will need school administrators, employees and parents to help spread the word about the tax.
“It’s extremely important that we make sure that the public knows that this is not a tax increase; it’s a replacement,” Vest said. “Residents have supported this since 1957. We need to make sure that everyone knows how important this tax is to education in Hartselle.”
Board member Randy Sparkman said that this is an opportunity for the school system to show what it’s value means to the community.
“We answer the question, ‘What do we get for the investment?’” Sparkman said.
The date of the referendum would be set upon passage in the state legislature.
In other business, the board:
• approved the first reading of the school strategic plan.
• allowed HHS U.S. history students to visit the Carter House and Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tenn., May 12.
• held the first reading for revisions to the board’s anti-harassment policy. Wilson said the new policy is much more comprehensive than the current policy.
• approved paying Tim Miller to conduct driver’s education classes during the summer.
• accepted the retirements of Theresa Thrasher, special education teacher at HIS; Diane Shelton, physical education teacher at HIS; bus driver Gene Lee; Latin and English teacher Beth Fuller; and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Nancy Horton.
• approved paying $65 stipends to Jonathan Bragwell, Brooke Tankersley, Heather Murphy, Laura Lamb, Wendy Crow, Brooke McHan, Penny Roy, Stacy Steenson, Michelle Kelso and Shane Owens for the HIS fifth grade academy.
The next Hartselle BOE meeting will be Tues., May 19, at 6 p.m. at the central office.