Madison Mayoral candidates offer solutions to Limestone County tax revenue issue

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MADISON, Ala. – The three mayoral candidates in Madison agree on something: the schools bring people into the city to stay. As Madison and Limestone County leaders work through an issue with taxes, the three candidates are offering their own solutions.

Madison Board of Education members said there are about 1,800 students living in Limestone County but who attend Madison City Schools.  We asked the mayoral candidates about the lack of tax revenue coming from Limestone County.

“Today, our biggest obstacle is the school funding issue for our schools,” Mayor Troy Trulock said.

“Limestone County school funding,” candidate Paul Finley said. “Limestone County school funding is $1.7 million that is rightfully ours.”

“When I heard about this issue with tax problem between the Limestone County and City of Madison schools I was outraged,” candidate Hanu Karlapalem said.

So, what can be done?

“The solution is to engage at the mayor’s level,” Finley said. “We did that in 2008 when we were trying to secure the funding for James Clemens High School. Within two months, we formed a committee with the schools, within two years, we had secured the funding. Part of the funding was to have a half cent sales tax that paid for a $36 million interest-free loan. We knew that the community needed to understand why we were doing it so the mayor’s office led five community meetings, and in turn, we voted 6 to 1 on the council to pass that forward. So, the solution is getting engaged with the Limestone County issue.”

But, Incumbent Trulock said it is not that easy.

“What’s not been told very well in this story is that it’s been ongoing since probably, at least the year 2000, that this dispute has been going on,” Trulock said. “Folks say, ‘well why didn’t you as a mayor solve it, why didn’t somebody else solve it?’ The truth is, there are laws on the Limestone County side that that group is standing by, legitimate state laws, and there’s laws on our side, which is Madison City and Huntsville City and the state superintendent. So, we have laws on our side that we’re standing by and they have laws that they’re standing by. That’s why it’s never been resolved.”

Meanwhile, Karlapalem said he felt left in the dark as a Madison resident.

“We built a house on the western side of the county line and until recently I did not know that this was happening,” Karlapalem said. “Our leaders did not communicate with us. We have to hold our elected officials accountable for all the mess that we are in.”

This is an issue that you can expect the candidates to discuss at Wednesday’s mayoral debate. That’s happening Wednesday at 7 p.m. at James Clemens High School. WHNT News 19 is partnering with the Madison City PTA for this event. We’ll also air the debate on WHNT2.

If you have a question you would like asked at the debate, submit it here.