Limestone County school tax revenue dispute closer to settlement - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Limestone County school tax revenue dispute closer to settlement

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

A longtime dispute over education tax dollars involving four north Alabama school systems may be settled soon.

Three of those systems have agreed on how to split the proceeds generated in Limestone County. Madison City Schools officials have claimed their system is owed some of the money that Limestone County Schools and Athens City Schools have received through tax revenue generated in Limestone County.

Madison and Huntsville have expanded their boundaries into Limestone County through annexation. Because of Madison-annexed areas, more than 20 percent of Madison City Schools students live in the county.

In 2014, the Limestone County and Athens city school districts filed a lawsuit claiming that Madison City Schools is not a local school system within Limestone County. Neither of those cities' school systems get any sales tax money from Limestone County nor any countywide property tax money.

The board of educations for Athens, Limestone County and Madison have voted to accept a deal that would give Madison City Schools revenue from one of two one-cent sales taxes once it tops $8.9 million in any fiscal year.

"I think every school system feels like this was the best outcome for all school systems to get where we needed to get to. I don't think there's any negative as far as Athens city (schools) is concerned," said Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay.

The sales tax revenue historically has risen an average of 4 percent per year.

"We think we're talking a year or two at most, maybe three years before actually everything catches up and Madison and Huntsville feel the full effect of those taxes. But they'll feel some growth now," Holladay said.

Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk said if the settlement gets done, the school systems can start working together to increase their students' opportunities.

"I've already had conversations with the superintendent of Madison city to expand career technical options for their students as well. There are some advanced SAT prep classes that they could make available to our students. So we could work across the county line, or across the city lines, and do some more partnerships," Sisk said.

If the Huntsville Board of Education, which entered into the dispute on behalf of the Madison school system, approves the proposed settlement at their meeting Thursday, the state schools superintendent and a judge have to do the same to get the deal done.

All four school systems prefer to have a deal done and in place before the end of this month because the 2018 fiscal year starts in October.

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