School systems call for special election on tax continuation

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2021

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On Monday, both Lanett City Schools and the Chambers County Schools Board of Education met in special called meetings to pass resolutions that will go to the Chambers County Commission to call a special election on Aug. 31 to re-levy the ad valorem taxes. This would be a continuation of the current taxes that were imposed back in 1996 and would be in effect for another 25 years if passed. Both school systems passed their respective resolutions during those meetings.

During the Monday Chambers County Commission meeting, County Attorney Skip McCoy gave the commission a brief overview of what this means and how the commission will proceed.

McCoy told the commissioners that the commission cannot move forward until several tasks are completed. “In order to be prepared for a special election, there are a lot of things that have to happen and that is what Commissioner Bradford and I met with the board of education’s and advised,” McCoy said.

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There are three different tax rates in Chambers County, a 1.6 mil countywide rate, 5 mil countywide that impacts the CCSD and a 4.1 special district tax that covers Lanett.

One of the exercises that must be done prior to the commission moving forward is for petitions to be signed by 200 residents that are both registered voters and property owners within the 1.6 and 5 mill districts. McCoy told the commission that these petitions needed to be sent to him by May 24 so he can perform the proper verification. To verify, McCoy said he will cross-reference names with the registrar’s office as well as county property taxes to ensure the petitions were signed by eligible residents.

“So, I will have two weeks to verify everything and then we’ll be in a position on June 7 in our meeting to actually call for the election,’’ McCoy said. “If we don’t have that verified by June 7, we can’t call the election on June 7.”

The 4.1 mill special district tax does not require a petition.

McCoy also impressed upon the commission that this is not in any way a tax increase. “This is not a tax increase, this is a continuation of the tax and it’s been out there for 25 years now,” McCoy said.

McCoy also put a financial perspective on what this means for the school systems. “A mil right now will actually generate about $335,000 per mil,” he said. “So, it’s very important that this is, you know, brought before the people to allow them to vote for the continuation of the livelihood of our community with regards to education.”

The Chambers County School District Superintendent Casey Chambley also enforced to his board this was simply a continuation of the current tax. “Let me reiterate again, this is the re-up of the 25 year  millage taxes that were already in place,” Chambley said. “Nothing is new, none of these items are new taxes.”

Chambley also explained that this was just the first step in the process of bringing this to the people of Chambers County to vote.

“There has to be a resolution from our board first that goes to the county commission,” Chambley told the board.

By having a special election, the county will be responsible for paying for the election and depending on the ballot style, could cost the county upwards of $30,000.

With both resolutions passing Lanett City Schools and Chambers County School District, the commission now waits for the petitions and hopes to call a special election in the June 7 meeting.

It is anticipated the special election will take place on Aug 31.