MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - We are days away from finding out who Alabamians will choose as their next U.S. Senator- Roy Moore or Doug Jones.
Madison County voters will also be deciding whether or not to keep property taxes in place that help fund local schools.
Officials stress the outcome could impact your child's education.
Elizabeth Fleming is the executive director of the Schools Foundation, one of the education advocates at the forefront of the push to renew school taxes in Madison County.
The funding is divided up between the three public school systems- Huntsville, Madison and Madison County.
"On December 12th, there is an election that will be covering not only the U.S. Senate seat, but also some critical funding for our three public school systems. We have $58 million in annual funding at stake across those three systems," Fleming explained.
She's been out in the community with local school superintendents to stress the importance of the funding streams.
"When we talk about school renewals, it sounds like just a school thing, but really it's a community thing. I have been in awe of the community groups and our superintendents and our boards of education that have come together to make sure that we're effectively getting the word out about these renewals on the ballot," Fleming said.
None of the taxes are "project-specific" taxes. The county-wide taxes were originally put in place to support both systems (now all three) and the district taxes are to support operations for the entire school district. None of them have been premised on support for a particular school project in a particular district.
"We are renewing property taxes that have been on the books for more than 50 years. It's funding that was in place when I was a student in Huntsville City Schools and it's critical for the more than 50,000 students who attend our three systems daily," Fleming stated. "Every ballot measure that we're voting on December 12th has always been tied back to school funding. It has not ever been earmarked for one specific project or program, however it's earmarked for local use to support our school systems."
Depending on where you live, you will be asked different questions on your ballot on Tuesday. If you're zoned for Huntsville City Schools, you will be asked four questions. If you live in Madison City or Madison County, you will be asked three questions. The first two are county-wide renewal questions and then come the district related property tax renewals.
"We are encouraging everyone to vote "FOR" on all of the ballot measures in support of the continuation and renewal of school funding," Fleming said. "It's a continuation and renewal of these taxes. So it's not a new tax for anybody. These are taxes have supported our school systems for years and will always be designated to support our public schools."
The taxes support programs Fleming says the community has grown to expect at local schools and they would be directly impacted if the funding is lost.
"This is money that comes in from the residents of Madison County and it stays in Madison County. It helps our schools with the icing on the cake in our school systems. It's the programs that are not funded by state or federal dollars. They cover everything from career academies to the arts, to some of our athletics and our advanced placement courses. They are in place to make sure our school systems remain vibrant and exceptional," Fleming added.
The taxes represent more $37 million dollars in local annual funds for Huntsville City Schools, more $6 million dollars for Madison City Schools, and more $14 million dollars for Madison County Schools.
"A $58 million dollar annual hit across the board, you're talking about 15% of some of our school system's budgets. It's unimaginable the cuts that we would be looking at," Fleming said.
Tax Renewal Initiatives on Ballot Revenue at Stake Homeowner Cost Per $100,000 Home
1.5 mill County-wide tax: $ 2,700, 000 $ 15/year
4.0 mill County-wide tax: $ 7,100,000 $ 40/year
4.0 mill District 1 tax: $ 4,500,000 $ 40/year
TOTAL: $14,300,000 $95/year
1.5 mill County-wide tax: $ 3,100, 000 $ 15/year
4.0 mill County-wide tax: $ 8,050,000 $ 40/year
6.5 mill District 2 tax: $17,150,000 $ 65/year
4.0 mill District 2 tax: $ 9,350,000 $ 40/year
TOTAL: $37,650,000 $160/year
1.5 mill County-wide tax: $ 1,100, 000 $ 15/year
4.0 mill County-wide tax: $ 2,900,000 $ 40/year
4.0 mill District 3 tax: $ 2,500,000 $ 40/year
TOTAL: $ 6,500,000 $95/year
Total CURRENT ANNUAL Public School Funding at Stake:
Madison County: $ 14,300,000
Huntsville City: $ 37,650,000
Madison City: $ 6,500,000
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