The 10-mill bill

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dallas County, Selma schools not affected by Nov. 7 vote

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

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While Dallas County and Selma City Schools won’t be affected by the November vote regarding Amendment 2, other Black Belt school systems are awaiting the results.

Amendment 2, also referred to as the 10-mill bill, is a constitutional amendment requiring Alabama school systems to levy at least 10 mills of local property tax to support their students and school operations. Ten mills is the equivalent to one cent for each $100 of appraised value of property.

All school systems are required to raise 10 mills in property taxes in order to receive state education funding. When school districts fall short of 10 mills, they make up the difference in local revenue such as sales taxes.

According to Dr. Paul Hubbert, executive secretary and treasurer of the Alabama Education Association (AEA), school systems that utilize local dollars cause financial distress.

“The result is that local governments cannot meet the demands for law enforcement, health care and community services,” Hubbert wrote in a recent letter on AEA’s Web site. “Even worse, when reappraisals raise property taxes, local governments have less money to meet the needs of their citizens.”

Only 30 school systems would be affected by the amendment. Four Black Belt school districts – Barbour, Conecuh, Hale and Marengo counties – all currently raise seven to nine and a half mills in property taxes. Other school districts not meeting the 10 mills requirement include Chilton County (9 mills), Montgomery County (7 mills) and Tuscaloosa County (9.5 mills).

“The 30 affected districts will greatly benefit by passage of the amendment because every penny of the new money stays in that district to better fund its school,” Hubbert wrote.

If the amendment passes on Nov. 7, all 101 Alabama school systems will be on equal footing, said Selma City Schools Superintendent Dr. James Carter, who is in favor of the proposal. Both Selma City and Dallas County Schools meet the 10 mills requirement.

“I think it’s critical for all the systems to have this 10 mills because once you have the 10 mills you can use the other taxes to help with other needs in school districts,” he said.