Schools to ask for property tax renewals

Published 11:29 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The county’s three boards of education yesterday spoke with one voice, each agreeing to ask for the renewal of three separate property taxes for education.

The Covington County, Andalusia, and Opp boards of education each agreed to ask the commission to hold a special election on March 10, 2015, to renew three separate ad valorem taxes in Covington County.

“I think it’s important to make this clear, we are not asking for increased funding,” Covington County Board of Education President Jeff Bailey said. “We’re asking for recertification of the existing millages for our county.”

Specifically, if the commission agrees, in March, voters will consider:

• A 1-mill, county-wide tax that has been on the books for 70 years. This tax must gain 60 percent approval by voters on election day.

• A 3-mill, county-wide tax that has been on the books since 1985.

• A 3-mill, district tax, that also has been on the books since 1985. Andalusia voters must approve this for the tax to continue in Andalusia; Opp voters must approve for the Opp district; and all other voters must approve for the county.

The resolutions passed by the three boards yesterday are for the district taxes. Petitions will be presented to the commission for renewing the other two.

Each mill of property tax generates about $100,000 for the city school system, Superintendent Ted Watson said.

“It is very important to this system that we renew this tax,” Watson said. “This has been in place for 30 years.”

“We have a total of 10 mills in Covington County,” Bailey said. “Some systems have as much as 40.”

“Alabama has the lowest property tax of any state in the union,” Chairperson Jimmy Rogers said.

Opp Superintendent of Education Michael Smithart also stressed that the systems aren’t talking about a new tax.

“I think it is important to note that this is a continuation renewal of taxes that have been in existence for 70 years,” Opp City Schools Smithart said. “So this is not a tax increase or a new tax, this has been on the books inside Covington County for 70 years.”