BOE calls for special election to extend taxes

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

COLUMBIANA — The Shelby County Board of Education passed resolutions Oct. 21 to request the Shelby County Commission call a special election for county residents to renew 30 mills in education taxes.

The BOE will request the election be held Feb. 8, 2011. The resolutions will be presented to the County Commission at the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 25. The commission will vote on the request at a later date.

Superintendent Randy Fuller stressed the election would not result in new taxes.

“The vote to renew the taxes would not result in a tax increase,” Fuller said. “Residents would continue to pay the same amount they are currently paying.”

With 30 mills in taxes, someone who owns a $100,000 home would pay $300 a year.

The current 30-mill taxes are due to expire in 2017. The BOE is requesting the election now so the district can plan long-term projects and maintain educational standards.

If residents voted to extend the taxes, the taxes wouldn’t expire until Sept. 30, 2041.

Fuller said revenue generated from the taxes is used to fund art, music and physical education, as well as additional core subject teachers, instructional support personnel and guidance counselors. Tax revenues are also used to help repay bonds used to finance capital improvement projects.

“The bonds secured over the past 30 years will mature in six years,” Fuller said. “A portion of our current 30 mills of property tax are used to repay those bonds. Because there are only six years left in these existing property taxes, the school district is unable to secure additional bonds for capital improvements until the taxes are renewed.”

Fuller said Shelby County is expected to gain about 3,000 students over the next six years, which will lead to a need for additional classrooms and new schools. The school system is working on a capital improvement plan that would target fast-growing communities such as Alabaster, Calera, Helena and Chelsea.

“Without the renewal, we will be unable to build any new schools or make plans for additions or renovations to our existing schools,” Fuller said. “By holding a special election, we will be asking Shelby County residents to make a 30-year investment so that we can maintain the high standard of education that we have all come to expect.”

In other business, the board of education:

— Approved Kevin Snowden as the new transportation coordinator for the school system.

— Approved the distribution of more than $102,000 in grant money to various programs benefiting Shelby County students, including the Owens House Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center, Better Basics, the D.A.Y. Program, Family Connection, Links-Up, Campfire USA, Kids First, Shelby County Family Resource Center, Girls Incorporated of Central Alabama and the Shelby County Arts Council.