HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – It was a low turnout, but overwhelming support for a school tax proposal in Huntsville. Nearly 5,000 people cast a ballot in favor of a school tax proposal.
After the polls closed, 4,970 people voted ‘Yes’ to the proposal to re-write the ad valorem tax code. There were 453 people who voted ‘No’.
The change would ensure that neighbors who live within Madison, Limestone and Morgan counties would pay taxes to the Huntsville schools due to the district’s growth.
Right now, the school tax laws exclude Huntsville taxpayers living in Limestone and Morgan counties.
The new tax code takes effect on October 1, 2020 through the year 2045.
Huntsville City Schools hope to update old tax laws to reflect what Huntsville is today — a city that’s rapidly growing. Some voters say they want to see Huntsville’s education system flourish with the city’s expansion.
Huntsville City Schools had hopes that the voters would support an all-inclusive tax law.
Voter Jeannine W. said, “the vote is important because we need to support our schools. Without good schools, our community starts to fall apart.”
The old laws were first written in 1916 when Huntsville was just a dot on the map. Now it has a landmass size similar to Chicago.
“We need to recognize that and correct elements of the law to properly define where Huntsville is today and where it’s going, ” said voter Joseph Sasso. “I voted in favor of the change to clarify the law.”
Schools receive funding from the state, the federal government and local funding. Huntsville city schools officials say they rely on local funds to run after school programs and to keep classroom sizes small.
“What’s important about this tax is this support our programs in Huntsville City Schools, approximately 38% of our budget is based on local money from the city of Huntsville which is actually from this tax.” Huntsville school board superintendent Christie Finley.
Schools could – potentially – lose funding down the line, but that’s not an immediate concern.
“This is the same tax you’ve always paid all we’re doing is taking out one section that has a little bit of ambiguity in the language,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.
City officials want residents to know — taxes are not expected to go up as a result of this proposal. It’s intended to bring in the newer areas who go to Huntsville Public Schools to pay Huntsville taxes.