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Special school tax election nears

Vote to be held Nov. 12 at Atmore city hall

The city of Atmore’s special election to renew an existing 5-mil ad valorem tax for the schools is Tues., Nov. 12, at the city hall auditorium.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for all residents who are registered to vote that live within the city limits of Atmore.

According to Advance archives,Amendment 8 of the state constitution names Atmore as one of 10 that can have a special 5 mil ad valorem tax dedicated to just the school system in Atmore. Current schools in Atmore include Rachel Patterson Elementary, Escambia County Middle and Escambia County High School.

The tax was enacted in 1958, and for the last 60 years, schools in Atmore have received the tax dollars generated.

Resident Murray Johnson said during the city’s council meeting on Oct. 28, that last year, or during the past fiscal year, the school tax generated $363,000.

“It’s a 5 mil tax, which equals $5 a month on a $100,000 home,” Johnson said. “The majority of the tax is paid by businesses.”

Johnson said during the last fiscal year, the Escambia County Board of Education took care of an additional 1.5 assistant principals, half of a salary  of a choral program teacher and half of a salary of a Spanish teacher at Escambia County High School; one assistant principal and half of a counselor’s salary at Escambia County Middle Schoo; and one assistant principal’s salary at Rachel Patterson Elementary School.

Johnson said total expenditures were more than what the school tax generated, but the school system took care of its people.

For the 2020 fiscal year budget (this current fiscal year), the school tax amount has been set at $363,000. The only change is that half a Spanish teacher’s salary at ECHS isn’t on the budget.

Johnson said the expenditures are lower this fiscal year, and are set at $389,865.

Johnson, an avid supporter of the students, said the kids are going to lose if it doesn’t pass.

“This is a one-shot deal,” he said. “This has been here for 60 years.

“This is not a new tax,” he said.