Decatur school leaders want verbal agreement in writing - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Decatur school leaders want verbal agreement in writing

School leaders are concerned that they are being cut out of revenue from the new development. School leaders are concerned that they are being cut out of revenue from the new development.
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

School leaders in Decatur want a 33-year-old verbal agreement with the city to be put in writing, and the new Sweetwater development project at the corner of the I-565, I-65 interchange, set to draw in millions for the city, is bringing the issue to the forefront.

School leaders are concerned that they are being cut out of revenue from the new development.

Since 1980, one penny out of Decatur's four cent sales tax has gone to help fund schools.

It's just been that way for 33 years; nothing has ever been in writing, but school leaders want it now because when the Sweetwater development project is built, the city wants to keep that penny.

The Sweetwater development deal is expected to bring in millions for the city, which is good because they are going to need to recoup the $40-million it will take to lure developers to build it in the first place.

At the corner of the I-565, I-65 interchange, the city plans to have a hotel, restaurants, and retail - rumored to be a Bass Pro Shops.

The city is not touching the penny it already gives the district except for what's generated from those stores, but school leaders feel if they don't get their penny agreement in writing now with a resolution, every time the city wants to dip into it, they will.

"What about after the retail box and the hotel? What about the penny for Decatur City Schools from any retail development from that point forward?" ask Karen Duke, President of the Decatur School Board.

"They are going to want to have a secure guarantee source of funds and that's understandable, but we need to use some of the new funds generated to pay for the infrastructure that it takes to get that new development," said Decatur Mayor Don Kyle.

The mayor and city council members said they will not touch the current penny the school district already gets on the current sales tax base. They are just not too keen on the idea of putting it in writing.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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