Updated agreement ensures sales tax funds go to Pelham schools

Published 10:37 am Thursday, January 28, 2021

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

PELHAM — The Pelham City Council and the Pelham City Schools Board of Education recently signed and approved an agreement updating language in a 2013 sales tax law to ensure those funds are used specifically for schools.

The wording of the original law stated the funds “shall be expended to support public education for the residents of Pelham, and for any other expenses deemed necessary for the support of the public schools located within the city limits of Pelham, as directed and appropriated by the City Council.”

According to PCS Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield, the language was too narrow and opened the possibility the funds could be deferred away from the needs of the schools.

“The 1-cent sales tax was passed back in 2013, and while it helped us get the school system going, there was concern that the language was too narrow for what we needed,” Coefield said. “We felt as the BOE that the language should be strengthened so there is no confusion about where the money is supposed to go.”

Pelham City Councilman Scott Coram called for the need to update this language after winning his recent election.

“Our city worked with us on that and passed this agreement for 30 years, that those funds will only be used for the Pelham Board of Education,” Coefield said. “We basically take an agreement between the board and the City Council for that to change, or to divert funds from that 1-cent (tax) to be used somewhere else.”

These funds are essential for the growing school district as they help provide a variety of necessities, including pay raises, new teachers, safety upgrades and new buildings when necessary.

“It takes away the unknown for the future. When you are confident in that stream of revenue, it really helps you from a planning point of view,” Coefield said. “There are a lot of municipalities where the 1 cent starts out for one thing and ends up going elsewhere. This was a commitment on the part of the mayor and the City Council that every penny from this sales tax goes completely to the Board of Education.”