Vote #8216;Yes#039; on Amendment 2

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2006

Amendment 2 on the November ballot is a constitutional amendment that requires every school district in the state to levy at least ten mills in order to participate in the state's Education Foundation Program. One mill is equal to $1 on every $10,000 of taxable residential property.

In 1995, the Foundation Law equalized state funding for every student in every school system and required a minimum of 10 mills from every school system in order to participate fully in state funding. This is the amount that is deducted from the state allocation to the local school systems through the budget process. If a school system has less than the required 10 mills, local funds must be used to make up the difference. Those local funds are usually sales taxes.

When the Foundation Program was established, a loophole allowed school systems to contribute 10-mills of property tax or its equivalency. Thirty systems do not collect 10 mills and use local sales taxes to make up the difference between the mills they collect and the 10-mill requirement.

Local sales taxes then become part of the state's Foundation Program and are not available to meet other local needs. As property values increase, the &#8220equivalency amount” also increases.

More and more local sales tax dollars are needed to meet the equivalency requirement.

Amendment 2 eliminates the equivalency allowance.

It requires every district to levy at least ten mills of property tax and allows the locally collected sales taxes to be used for other local education needs. Amendment 2 would impose in those areas of the state that currently are below the 10-mill minimum requirement the mills necessary to reach 10 mills.

The amount would vary from a half-mill up to 3 mills in the 30 systems affected. The one hundred and one school systems that currently benefit from the 10 mills or more would be unaffected.

Amendment 2 is an equity issue.

One mill in property tax collected in rural Alabama is far less than one mill collected in the suburbs of Alabama cities. Property values vary widely but when everyone pays the same 10 mill rate, everyone is making a comparable effort to fund their schools.

The statewide referendum is necessary to insure that ALL of Alabama's public school children have at least the minimum level of support the Legislature deemed necessary to participate in the Foundation Program.

It is important for each of us to do our fair share in informing our community.

We need to urge every voter to go to the polls on November 7, 2006 and vote &#8220yes” on Amendment 2.

We live in one of the 30 districts not collecting tens mills. Please help me inform our community of how much better off our schools will be with this equitable tax base.

Local sales taxes will stay in the community to meet other needs of local schools.

Please vote &#8220yes” on Amendment 2 on November 7th.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter!

Kathi Wallace, Superintendent

Crenshaw County Public Schools