Super: Opp could repeal city tax, benefit more from county sales tax

Published 2:10 am Friday, June 23, 2017

Opp Superintendent Michael Smithart, on Thursday, urged the Opp City Board of Education and Opp community to support the proposed additional one-half percent sales tax for education currently in discussion in Covington County.

At Opp’s Board of Education meeting, Smithart said that 22 percent of this possible sales tax would go to Opp City Schools.

“Currently, we have the 1-cent sales tax here (for education in Opp) and the estimation is that we will receive $560,000 from that,” Smithart said. “Based on last year’s numbers, that number would be $907,000 from the county sales tax (for education). That’s something I would like the board, and the town, to consider when these things come up.”

Smithart said that the current 1 cent city sales tax for education would need to be repealed. However, a bond attorney will have to look at the issue to determine if it is possible to drop because the tax is pledged to a bond. If that tax could be rescinded at the same time a new one is passed Opp residents would not pay any more as a consumer.

In 2007, the Opp City Council approved a 1-cent sales tax for education that funds the debt service on a bond issue for the new elementary school. Last year, the Opp City Council refinanced the bond issue, but the sales tax remains tied to the bond.

“Nothing changes for us as a consumer, but the impact and benefit for our kids is several hundred thousand dollars more,” Smithart said of the proposal. “The impact to the kids is just too good to pass up.”

If the sales tax was passed, it would need to be passed by the Covington County Commission as a sales tax earmarked for education, and then the money would be divided among Andalusia City Schools, Covington County Schools and Opp City Schools.

“When you’re trading $560,000 for $907,000 and you’re still paying the same amount as a consumer, the net for Opp City Schools is too good to pass up,” Smithart said. “That’s why if this comes about, I think the board and we as a community need to get behind this.”

Last week, Covington County Commission Chairman Greg White and County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver confirmed there had been preliminary talks about the possible sales tax.

White was concerned about a new tax making the sales tax more than 10 percent in Andalusia and Opp. If passed, and the cities could not rescind their sales taxes for education currently in place, sales tax totals in Andalusia would be 10.5 percent and it would be 11 percent in Opp.

Earlier this month, the Opp City Council voted to add an additional 1-cent sales tax to help the ailing Mizell Memorial Hospital. It is set to go into effect in August.