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Voters head to polls Sept. 12

By By Kerry Whipple-Bean
Local school officials hope next week's tax renewal vote results match or exceed the results from the last time the school tax was renewed – about a quarter century ago.
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday, Sept. 12, to consider an ad valorem tax renewal totaling 4 mills.
The last time the taxes were on the ballot, Escambia County Superintendent Billy Hines said, residents voted overwhelmingly to approve the tax renewal by about 90 percent.
"We hope we can match those results," he said.
The taxes – a 1-mill district tax and 3-mill county-wide tax – date back almost 80 years, said Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith.
"We don't expect too much of a turnout," Smith said. "But it's critical for us (for it to pass. … I feel very positive about it."
The district tax must pass with a 60 percent majority. The county-wide tax only needs a simple majority to pass.
"I don't see any reason why it won't pass," Smith said. "There is no organized opposition to it. I don't think people will go to the polls just to vote against it."
Smith said parents will likely receive letters early next week reminding them of the vote.
In 2003, voters approved a new 10-mill tax to help schools. That new money has also helped the schools, local officials said.
Hines said recent improved test scores show how important the funding is to local schools.
"We're making great strides," he said. "I hope people see that we're using (taxpayers') money wisely."
Hines also noted that the success of schools can impact the entire community.
"When businesses come in, the first thing they want to look at is how the schools are doing," he said.