Council approves BOE request of $1.2 million from education tax

Published 11:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

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The Andalusia City Council on Tuesday approved a request from the Andalusia City School System to provide system funds for a number of projects from the half-cent education sales tax.

Andalusia Superintendent Dr. Daniel Shakespeare spoke to the council regarding a number of projects the school system is working toward, asking that $1.2 million in education sales tax revenue be released to the school system to help fund them.

Among the projects to be funded includes $500,000 for principal and interest payments associated with the construction of the high school stadium and auditorium, with some going toward maintenance of the stadium.

Approximately $125,000 will be used to develop a STEM class to begin in either January or August of 2023. The funds will allow for travel to systems that have similar classes already in place, renovations to allow classroom space, and startup materials.

Shakespeare also reported that funding would be used for a mentoring program at the junior high.

“This program would be for students who lack the opportunities of others,” he said, adding that the program will include after-school tutoring, enrichment activities, and exposure to career opportunities.

Other items in the funding request included: Apple computer leases, continued funding of music and art teachers, an education technology specialist, and renewing laptops for teachers. Shakespeare also asked that funding be included to help pay for a feasibility study to determine the potential of a vocational school for the system.

The council approved the superintendent’s request by unanimous vote.

The $1.2 million is an increase of about $100,000 over what the school system received in 2021.

Carrying over from last year is a previously-approved project to construct a maintenance shop at a cost of $125,000.

The education sales tax was approved in 2013.

Also approved was a measure that will add five steps to the city’s employee pay plan.

“We have a tremendous labor shortage and this is an attempt to give us more flexibility in hiring,” Thompson said. “There are performance appraisals in our proposed budget that employees would not be eligible for because they are topped out, both on the city and utilities side. Ultimately, we also see this as a way of retaining our best employees.”

Other items discussed included:

  • approving the appointment of Bridges Anderson to the Utilities Board.

Anderson is a former two-term council member and former Utilities Board member, having served as the council representative for six years. He is filling the seat previously held by Jim Smith, who recently retired from the board.

Mayor Johnson nominated Anderson to the board and he was appointed by unanimous vote of the council.

  • waiving business license fees for vendors associated with the annual Gun and Knife Show to be held at the Kiwanis Center on August 20 and 21.
  • approving an ordinance allowing for the transfer of a recently-acquired property to be part of the Capital Improvement Cooperative District.

The property is located at E. Three Notch and Third Avenue.

According to City Clerk John Thompson, when the property was purchased about two months ago, it was mistakenly deeded to the City of Andalusia instead of the cooperative district. As a way of fixing the mistake, the city had to surplus the property and then transfer it into the cooperative district.

The council suspended the rules allowing for an immediate vote, which passed by unanimous vote.

  • approving the renewal of a five-year lease for property associated with an old landfill near Debro Hill.

The land has been leased by Robert Bishop since 2006.

  • approving the purchase of a shuttle loader for the Public Works landfill. The loader will be purchased from the state bid list at a cost of $183,000.
  • hearing a report and funding request from Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce Director Laura Wells.

Wells asked the council to approve the purchase of a sleigh-themed train car that will be compatible with a previously-purchased train engine that has not been in use. The sleigh will be used for transporting Santa Claus during Candyland events. The council approved the purchase at a price of $12,900.

Wells also reported that circus performers traditionally involved at Candyland will not be used this year, but instead will feature children’s characters provided through Meredith’s Miracles. She said in the past the characters provided by Meredith’s Miracles has drawn a bigger audience than the circus performers at half the cost.