Alabaster council pledges sales tax to BOE for 30 years
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
A 2011 Alabaster 1-cent sales tax increase feeding an education fund for the Alabaster School System will remain in place until 2044 after the Alabaster City Council voted 5-1-1 during its June 23 meeting to pledge the tax for 30 years.
Council President Scott Brakefield and council members Bob Hicks, Sophie Martin, Rick Walters and Tommy Ryals voted in favor of the ordinance, council member Russell Bedsole voted against and council member Stacy Rakestraw abstained.
The City Council voted in 2011 to raise the city’s sales tax by 1 cent to feed the education fund. Alabaster City School System leaders requested the 1 cent be pledged for the next 30 years to allow the system to secure a $120 million bond issue to construct a new high school and make significant renovations to Alabaster’s existing school buildings.
The bond also will be used to pay off the majority of the $15 million in existing debt the Alabaster City School System assumed when it separated from the Shelby County School System, Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow previously said.
After the vote, Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers thanked the council and said he will be a “good steward” of the revenue generated through the penny sales tax.
In a brief interview after the meeting, Vickers said the city’s School Board likely will call a special meeting in the next few days to possibly move forward with the bond issue.
The council’s vote came after an about 15-minute public hearing, during which three Alabaster residents voiced opposition to the tax pledge and one voiced favor for the plan.
Christine Carr praised city and school system leadership, but said she would like to see alternatives to the 30-year tax pledge.
“Let’s find an intelligent way to do this without tying future generations,” Carr said, asking the council to table the ordinance for a month to allow further discussion between the city and the school system.
Becky Goggins said she was in favor of the pledge.
“The sales tax was passed for education. Let’s leave it there for 30 years,” Goggins said.
After the vote, council members also voiced their opinions on the matter.
“In 2011, we were all on the same page that this was solely to be used for the schools, not short-term but forever,” Martin said.
Rakestraw said she abstained because she would have liked to see other funding options with shorter pledge terms.