MADISON, AL (WAFF) - Tuesday, the Madison City Council took the next step in implementing a 12 mil property tax increase for school funding.
The council unanimously approved a motion that will ask the state legislature to allow the city to put the property tax increase on a 2019 referendum ballot.
Madison residents will then get to vote on the increase.
If passed, the tax would fund a new elementary and middle school for Madison City Schools. It would also fund additions to existing high schools for up to 500 students, but it would not be enough for a new high school.
Madison resident Mike Sheehy spoke at the Tuesday meeting, and said the city council should have prioritized a new high school. He called for a 20 mil property tax increase.
“All we’re doing now with this proposal is kicking that can down the road and having to come back to it in future years when it’s possibly going to be too late," he said.
Other speakers echoed Sheehy’s sentiment that more funding for the school district is needed to accommodate Madison’s growth.
“Everyone’s assuming away the high school, but by 2021 we’re going to need a funding stream for that,” Sheehy said.
Madison City Council members said they understood his concern, but said asking for a higher property tax would have been risky.
Councilman Teddy Powell said the council is concerned about a public rejection of the property tax in the referendum, leaving the schools with nothing.
The tax proposal would cost a Madison resident with a $100,000 home an extra $120 in property taxes.
Sheehy said despite his reservations, he will support the tax increase.
“We don’t have a choice. In the military we would say take the 50 meter target first and our 50 meter target right now is the elementary and middle schools. We got focus on those and get those taken care of,” he said.
It’s unclear when the referendum on the tax would take place. The state legislature’s next session opens in March.
The city of Triana would also need to take similar measures, as its students attend Madison City Schools.