Gardendale voters approve tax increase for new school system - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Gardendale voters approve tax increase for new school system

Posted: Updated:
Gardendale voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve or deny a 5 mil property tax increase and use that money to create their own school system. Source: WBRC video Gardendale voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve or deny a 5 mil property tax increase and use that money to create their own school system. Source: WBRC video
GARDENDALE, AL (WBRC) -

UPDATE: Gardenale City officials say that 2,035 voted in favor of and 1,493 voted against a tax increase to help create an independent school system.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gardendale voters headed to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to form their own school system. Currently, all Gardendale schools are part of the Jefferson County school system.

Election officials said at 4 p.m. that about 2,400 people had voted. A typical municipal election will garner between 3,000 and 3,500 voters.

The vote comes roughly one year after the mayor and city council gave the go-ahead for a feasibility study to be done to determine if Gardendale could support its own system and the benefits to breaking away.

When they head to the polls, voters must decide whether to approve or deny a 5 mil property tax increase.

To break it down, proponents say if you own a $150,000 home, these 5 mils would increase your taxes by roughly $75 more per year.

Already this year, the city council raised property taxes by 5 mills. That money would go towards supporting the school system. The 30.1 mills residents pay to the Jefferson County school system would now stay in Gardendale.

Proponents of the separate school system, like City Council President Stan Hogeland, say the move is all about local control.

"Your appointed school board are people our citizens know. They go to church with them and see them in the stores and out at dinner. So there's that element of local control," Hogeland says.

He also added that a superintendent hired by what would be an appointed school board would have to focus only on four to five schools, as opposed to nearly 60 schools as the current Jefferson County currently has to do.

There are, of course, opponents to this measure: believing it's been rushed, it will penalize tax payers too much, and questions of will students really do any better in an independent system.

Proponents say they've done their homework by conducting a feasibility study and having an accounting firm look at the numbers. Soon, it'll all be up to voters.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

If the measure were to pass, Gardendale would start its own school system in the 2015-2016 school year.

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow