Property tax increase would

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2001

help county schools


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Superintendent of Pike County Schools Dr. John Key said it would be a good idea to have a countywide school system. But he doesn’t see that happening.

He also said eliminating taxes on necessary items such as food and medicine would be a good idea.

That could happen – if.

If the residents of Pike County were willing to raise property tax to help finance education instead of depending on unstable income and sales taxes, the county school system would be on sounder footing and the elimination of taxes on necessary items could happen.

Key spoke to the Brundidge Rotary Club and told the Rotarians renewal of property tax will come up shortly after the first of the year and he would like to see the taxes increased from 9.7 mills to at least a 10-mill break-even point.

"Property taxes are reevaluated every two years," he said. "At 9.7 mills, the Pike County Schools are already in the hole," he said.

Local school districts are expected to provide at least 10 mills for education. Those that are not collecting 10 mills are washing a portion of state support in order to finance the additional .3 mills.

Key said the problem with state support for education is that it depends on sales and income taxes.

"The economy drives those taxes," he said. "When there is a downturn in the economy, we have proration. The state is saying ‘We made a mistake in what we can give, so you’ve got to give it back. If the local support is not there, that means layoffs because there is no place to cut in our budget and education suffers."

Key said schools in the United States are expected to educate and then do more.

"We are the only country in the world with extracurricular activities for our students," he said. "In countries like Germany, France and England, sports and clubs are undertaken by the cities."

Also, Key said parents in the United States often don’t put the emphasis on education that parents in other counties do.

"We often give lip service to education," he said and cited an example in Peachtree City, Ga. where parents were asked to come to a school work session. Some parents came with a rake or a hoe. Others just came. The parents of Japanese students came with hoes, rakes and shovels – and flowers, bulbs and shrubs."

Key said increasing the property tax and is best hope for education in Alabama, at this time. Income and sales taxes will not provide the quality of education the children of the state deserve.

"It the sensible thing to do," he said. "Education is an investment in the future and we must make a better commitment to that investment."

State Rep. Alan Boothe was also a guest of the Rotarians Wednesday and Key turned over the "pleasure" of drawing the winner of two Alabama and Auburn football tickets to the "politician."

"Alan’s a politician," Key said, laughing. "I just have to run for my job."

Key compared a politician to a baby’s diaper.

"You have to change both frequently and for the same reason," he joked.

Politicians do a good job of pulling rabbits out of a hat, but pulling out a winner of Iron Bowl football tickets takes courage on the part of any politician.

However, Boothe, who got the tickets for the Rotarians, didn’t hesitate in pulling out the winning tickets.

Bob Williamson, a deputy with the Pike County Sheriff’s Department was the lucky winner of the football tickets and $100 in cash.

Caleb Tew won $100 and Ira Thompson and David Reed each won $50.