Opp school tax up for May 19 vote

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opp voters will vote Tues., May 19, to renew or reject a 5 mill ad valorem tax for city schools that’s been on the books for 60 years, city council members decided Monday.

Mayor H.D. Edgar presented the Opp City School Board’s request that the city hold the special election to allow the citizens to vote on renewing the 30-year, twice renewed tax initially passed 1948. Currently, the tax is set to expire Sept. 30 if not renewed. It brings in an estimated $175,000 annually for Opp’s three schools.

When BOE members announced their intent to seek the ad valorem tax renewal, OCS superintendent Michael Smithart said, “This is not a new tax. This is a tax that the people of this town have paid for 60 years.

“Sixty years ago, the voters saw fit to fund schools at a higher level, and 30 years ago they confirmed that,” he said.

Edgar echoed Smithart’s point of view.

“This is not an increase over what we pay now – it’s just a continuation,” he said. “Our schools need this money.”

Currently, the OCS collects 12 mills total in ad valorem taxes. In 2006, the state passed an amendment that requires school systems to receive at least 10 mills.

If Opp citizens do not renew the 5 mill ad valorem tax, schools will lose those 5 mills and then be required to collect an additional 3 mill special schools tax to meet the state-required 10 mills.

School board officials estimate the loss of revenue between $50,000-$60,000 if that situation were to occur.