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Community meeting to discuss city sales tax for education

Taxes don’t rate in anyone’s Top Ten favorite list, but taxes will be the discussion topic at a public forum on Wednesday evening.

Madison City Schools is hosting a community meeting to discuss the current half-cent sales tax collected in Madison. The meeting will be held Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. in Zompa Auditorium at Bob Jones High School, 650 Hughes Road.

“The focus will be on unbudgeted, excess revenue that the (half-cent sales) tax is generating,” superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said. After Fowler’s presentation, the public can ask questions.

Madison City Council requested the public meeting, Fowler said.

“The Madison Board of Education has adopted a resolution that supports the use of these unbudgeted funds for educational needs,” Fowler said in a system-wide email distribution. A fact sheet, detailed below, is available on the school district’s website (madisoncity.k12.al.us); click the link in the “District News” section.

“People view the half-cent cent sales tax as an education tax,” the fact sheet states. Madison City Schools can use the money for construction costs, operational costs and any other legitimate expenditure of the school board, according to the sheet.

“Madison City Schools continue to experience tremendous growth. More than 600 students have been added in the last two years,” Fowler said.

The district fact sheets also states “freeing up this revenue equates to no new taxes. This will not increase the 17-year term of the current tax.” With this tax, asking Madison City Council or the Alabama legislature for a property tax would be unnecessary.

BRAC funds offer another option to meet the system’s growing needs. The half-cent sales tax revenue would allow the district possibly to receive $20 to $25 million in BRAC bonds. BRAC funds may be used for new construction and for the renovation of existing buildings with only 50 percent payback, Fowler said.

Earlier this year, Madison Board of Education pulled their request for a referendum item to Madison City Council for a proposed 6-mill property tax increase for school funding.

The Alabama legislature had passed a bill allowing a city vote, but Madison County legislators significantly changed the original bill. The amended bill was not advertised correctly, which could have led to litigation.

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