Local leaders focus on renewal vote

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 7, 2002

Messenger Publisher

As the governor was calling for constitutional reform to better fund Alabama schools, leaders in Troy and Pike County were continuing their call for renewal of a school tax.

"This is something the people in Pike County should support," said Ray Goodson, a member of the Pike County Commission. "This isn’t a new increase in taxes; it’s something we’ve been paying all along and it’s one we need to keep going."

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A special election is set for March 12 to renew the ad valorem taxes that support Pike County and Troy City Schools. The taxes ­ 9.7 mills for the county district and 10.7 mills for the city ­ generate approximately $1.1 million annually for each district.

Voters are being asked to vote for a 29-year renewal of those taxes, which have been in place more than 70 years.

"I believe I can speak for the Troy City Council in saying that we’re in unanimous support," said Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. "And I’m personally encouraging everybody not only to vote on the 12th, but to vote ‘for’ the renewal."

In Alabama, every school system must receive a minimum of 10 mils in taxes, or the equivalent with a portion of that amount coming from sales taxes. Superintendents from both the city and county school districts have said repeatedly that the revenue generated from this millage is crucial to funding basic operations of the schools.

"If it didn’t pass

we’d lose a large number of support personnel, and we’d cut all student activities as well," said Hank Jones, superintendent of Troy City Schools.

In the county, Superintendent John Key said the need is more dire. "I haven’t put a pencil to it, but I don’t see how we could operate," he said.

Community leaders from elected officials to parents have been lobbying for the tax renewal. On Tuesday, the Brundidge City Council passed a resolution supporting it.

"Right now, I’m not sure that we are pushing this thing hard enough," said Mayor Jimmy Ramage. "A lot of people aren’t even aware of the election

The city council encourages voters to go out next Tuesday and cast a vote in favor of education ­ a vote for the children who will be out future leaders."