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New high school might have to wait

Millage rates for Alabama counties 2009

A new Selma High School building might have to wait awhile.

Selma School System Interim Superintendent Donald Jefferson told the school board during a work session he has labored over how to pay for a new building for nearly three weeks. He’s concerned about making the payments and leaving the school system’s coffers bare bones.

“No one wants a high school better than I,” he said.

Other schools across the city system need attention, Jefferson said. “We’re not doing a good job with them.”

Plans for the new high school are drawn. Construction was scheduled to begin this fall with completion of the new high school by spring 2012. The school system has secured $20 million from stimulus money available through the Qualified School Construction Bond. The district would have to pay the rest of the cost of the $27 million project.

Several school board members declined to accept the fact, saying they had not pursued all avenues to see financing for construction through.

Board member Udo Ufomadu said the school board had talked about going to the Selma City Council to talk about a property tax increase to pay for school construction.

“Let’s see if the city can get involved,” he said.

Ufomadu’s idea is not new.

In April school board member Brenda Randolph-Obomanu suggested the school system ask the city council to hold an election and let voters decide on a property tax increase to build the school.

The school board never carried through with the suggestion.

School board member Holland Powell said property taxes in Selma are already high. “We’re taxing people to death. It just won’t pass.”

The city’s 2009 millage rate is 27 mills, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue, not counting the county’s tax rate on property. A mill is one-thousandth of a currency unit.

By comparison, Birmingham’s millage rate is 28.5 mills with 9.8 mills to education and Demopolis is 26 mills with 10 to education.