MADISON, Ala. - The Madison City Council met Tuesday evening and passed a resolution to support the proposed property tax increase that would provide much-needed revenue to Madison City Schools.
School system leaders have long said they need additional revenue to build additional school buildings and keep up with the growing student population. The district recently passed its own resolution to push the measure to the city council, which unanimously approved it tonight.
The district said it needs:
- $34 million for a new elementary school
- $49 million for a new middle school
- $18-20 million for high school additions
- $3.5 million for additional operational support
Superintendent Robby Parker proposing a 12-mil ad valorem tax increase for Madison residents.
Those residents came to the council meeting Tuesday to voice their opinions, and not one person came to oppose the increase. Instead, there was much support for the proposal.
One man said Madison has been a place where his children had opportunities through school.
"We just want other Madison parents who want the same thing for their kids to do the same," he said of his support for the increase.
"I know teachers are frustrated, students are frustrated. We have tutors in the closet. We have special ed teachers teaching out of closets," one woman said. "We are all feeling the constraints of the sizes. My fourth grade daughter has 27 students in her class right now. Teachers can not be successful as they'd like to be, students can not be successful."
Another person said they would gladly pay three or four times the 12-mill tax that is currently proposed in order to get the district back in order.
One man spoke to the council, saying they should amend the proposal to consider a 20-22 mill increase in order to pay for a new high school, too.
"12 mills is not responsible. 20-22 mill equivalency would buy a high school and is the only realistic solution," he said.
Many others agreed, asking the council to consider other options for revenue. They said they do not want to see a similar proposal come back up before them in the next few years.
"I would rather us not to have to come back to the well in 3 or 4 years," a citizen stated.
Council members and the mayor were in favor of the resolution too.
"There is also multiple opportunities out there. Town Madison. What Mazda-Toyota property taxes will bring in that we don't know. Facebook sales taxes in this area. The possibility that others could add tax... There's a lot of other different opportunities for funding sources, so with this there has been a lot of thought to understand why 12 mills is the right number currently," he said
Gerald Clark, council member, also expressed confidence in the number: "We need to move forward in the interest of time," he said.
Teddy Powell added, "It's a risky venture to not get this passed. This has to pass now."
Several things still need to happen, by law, before the tax can be levied. The increase still needs a similar resolution from the Town of Triana, a bill needs to be drafted for approval from the Alabama Legislature in its upcoming session, and finally a public vote by citizens in both municipalities must take place before the tax is in place.
"We really really have to help sell this to the rest of the community," Council member Tommy Overcash said to the tax supporters at Tuesday's meeting.
Some of the other business taken up by the council included a new coin for Madison and a new growth policy for the City.