Voters say no to tax

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Shelby County residents made their wishes known Tuesday.

No more taxes, they voted &045; 72.9 to 27.1 percent.

Voters turned down a proposed 9-mill increase in property taxes yesterday by almost three to one, 7,522 to 20,192 (unofficial vote totals as of Tuesday at presstime).

School board officials expressed their disappointment following announcement of the final vote tallies.

&uot;Class space will be reduced. There will be trailers (mobile classrooms),&uot; superintendent Evan Major said. &uot;We will reduce programs.&uot;

Major said there would be &uot;no new construction until the board of education can find a new revenue source.&uot;

The school board proposed the 9-mill property tax hike to benefit the school district’s capital improvement plan, a plan which was developed to meet the extreme growth needs of the system.

Major indicated the board of education would have to go back to the &uot;drawing board&uot; now; however, that would not happen on Wednesday morning.

&uot;We will overcome this,&uot; he said. &uot;We will be able to provide for our kids.&uot;

Bill Pittman of Indian Springs awaited vote results at the Shelby County Courthouse on Tuesday night.

&uot;It seems like, to me, if a good scientific sample had been take before the Riley vote and this, they would have found out how people felt and saved us a lot of money.

&uot;Senior citizens are just tired of seeing (tax) increases all the time.&uot;

Pittman claimed some of the capital improvement plan was not directed toward what he had determined was &uot;education … a lot of gymnasiums, and the plan was subject to change.&uot;

He said he had also heard negative comments from retired teachers and had not received enough information about the tax increase to be for it.

Major said, however, the information has been in the mainstream for some time now.

&uot;This Board of Education came forward with an aggressive plan; the information’s been out there for over a year. We went through the legislative process,&uot; he said. &uot;We didn’t just haphazardly come forward.&uot;

School board member Peg Hill said she was not surprised with the result of Tuesday’s vote.

&uot;I was not surprised. I think the Shelby County School System has been a fat calf for too long,&uot; she said. &uot;The people are not hungry.

&uot;We built the schools we said we would with the last tax vote. That money is gone. Now people will have to get disgruntled enough again with more and more mobile classrooms, fewer teachers, larger classes and fewer special programs until we can find money to build new schools again.

&uot;The governor and the state of Alabama will not build schools for Shelby County. The people will have to do it,&uot; she said.

In the meantime, Hill said, &uot;Chelsea and Calera came out the biggest losers in this.&uot;

The Chelsea and Calera areas have proven in the past year to grow at the most rapid rate.

Without additional funds, projections are that the school system will have to add about 50 classroom trailers per year to keep up with growth for a total of about 250 classroom trailers during the next five years