BOE approves 10 mil increase resolution
By By Bill Crist
Special to the Advance
"This isn't something we want to do, it's something we need to do," Escambia County School Board of Education attorney Broox Garrett told the Escambia County Board of Education at a special called meeting Tuesday night.
"It's going to take everybody beating the bushes," he said. "We have to let the people know why we need it."
Garrett passed along his advice immediately after the board unanimously approved a resolution seeking a 10-mill increase in the ad valorem tax.
The resolution will now go before the Escambia County Commission, which will hold a public hearing on March 10. At that point, the commission will vote whether to send it to the state legislature. It is expected that the commission will vote to do so. According to Garrett, if the legislature adopts the proposed amendment, it will give the county permission to call for an election, probably in late May. He said that Escambia County's legislative delegation has expressed a willingness to help get the measure before the county's voters.
He said that if it did not pass in this legislative session, the election would take place in the fall.
"If we're going to get it done in the May time frame, we've got to do it," he said. "If not, we're looking at the fall."
"There are several different routes you can go for an ad valorem tax increase," Garrett said. "Given the time frame, the best option is to amend the existing millage authorization to increase it by 10 mills."
The resolution passed by the board and to be forwarded to the county commission reads; "Be it resolved by the Escambia County Board of Education that the Escambia County Commission is hereby requested and authorized to initiate the steps necessary under amendment number 373 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, (often referred to as "the Lid Bill Amendment") to increase by 10 mills the rate of three mill countywide tax for public school purposes presently levied under amendment three on property situated in Escambia County pursuant to the election held in the county on May 8, 1979."
Garrett pointed out that approximately 80 percent of the school's budget is allocated by the state for such things as salaries.
"There is only about 15 percent that you can make cuts to," he said. "There's only so much you can do."
Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell said that the only areas to possibly make cuts are those such as textbooks, technology, utilities and professional development.
"They compare us to a business, and we're not anything like a business," said Mike Goolsby, chairman of the board. "We've got our work cut out for us."
"It's going to take each board member to get out and talk to his district," said Powell. "You can tell them we're not just blowing smoke."
The Brewton City School board has called a meeting for Friday to discuss a similar resolution that will go hand-in-hand with the county's.