Voters will decide today on continuation of property tax allocation for schools

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This image was sent from Cullman High School to parents on Monday morning.

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County voters will head to the polls today, Tuesday, March 19, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to vote on the continuation and renewal of an existing property tax allocation for schools. The tax is not new or an increase. State law requires the allocation be renewed through a referendum every 30 years.

News of the referendum has been met with stiff resistance from many of The Cullman Tribune’s online readers because of the timing. Last Tuesday, the Cullman County Commission voted to approve a new half-cent sales tax to benefit Cullman County Schools. That same day, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation that will raise the state’s fuel tax rate for the first time since the early 1990s. The state will see a 10-cent gas tax increase phased in over three years to support infrastructure and the Port of Mobile.

In an online poll conducted by The Tribune last Monday, an overwhelming majority of participants said they were not in favor of the 10-cent statewide fuel tax increase (Approximately 1,600 said they did not support the tax, while 197 said they did support it); however, half of the Cullman-area’s state legislative delegation voted yes on the bill. Public reaction to those votes was swift and overwhelmingly negative.

Property tax allocation not a new tax

Area educators and business leaders have been vocal in their support of the property tax allocation, fearing that the general public might vote “no” because of the bitter taste left from the approval of the statewide gas tax.

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson shared, “On March 19, the residents of Cullman will have a renewal vote to continue the current funding for our school system. This ad valorem renewal is a continuation of what was passed in 1920. This has to be renewed every 30 years by a vote of the people. The funds provided through this allow us to provide teachers, nurses, resource officers, aides and opportunities for our students. The renewal will not raise property tax for anyone but will provide the much-needed funds to continue meeting our community expectations. Please support our students by voting for the proposals on March 19.”

Cullman High School sent out a message to parents, saying, "Cullman City Schools requests that you vote to maintain the funding allowed to CCS through the property tax. This is NOT a new tax."

Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leah Bolin shared the following message with Chamber members: "On behalf of the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Committee, I wanted to ensure our membership was aware of tomorrow’s special election on the renewal and continuation of countywide and district school taxes. This is an extremely important election that greatly impacts our area school systems. This is not a new tax, and voting in favor to renew means our schools will be able to continue providing a high level of education throughout Cullman County. See the attached one-pager for more information. A sample ballot is also attached. (See below)
 
"Please spread the word about this special election, and please remember to exercise your right to vote tomorrow. Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. If you’re not sure of your polling location, call the Cullman County Board of Registrars at 256-775-4750."

Said East Elementary School Principal David Wiggins in a tweet, “Our children need your support on Tuesday, March 19. Your vote in support of the tax RENEWAL will ensure that our children continue to receive the opportunities that they deserve.”

For more information on today’s referendum, visit https://bit.ly/2ubzmdb or https://bit.ly/2Y5Shnn.

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