Tax vote big decision for central Baldwin

Posted 5/27/21

If all goes as education officials are saying, central Baldwin voters will have a chance this fall to decide if the Robertsdale High School feeder pattern will become the third district in the county …

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Tax vote big decision for central Baldwin

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If all goes as education officials are saying, central Baldwin voters will have a chance this fall to decide if the Robertsdale High School feeder pattern will become the third district in the county to approve a three-mill property tax for local schools. This is a big decision. Under state law, voters in a district can approve a tax of up to three mills. The money raised by that tax can only go to schools in that district. Central Baldwin residents have petitioned the Baldwin County Board of Education to set a referendum on the tax. The board is scheduled to hold a special meeting on the issue on June 8. In September 2019, voters in two districts – Spanish Fort and Fairhope – approved a 3-mill tax for their schools. Those taxes are now generating about $2.5 million for Fairhope schools and $900,000 for Spanish Fort schools each year. That money is paying for additional teachers and programs for Eastern Shore children. A similar tax in central Baldwin County would bring in at least $800,000 a year, according to school system estimates. That’s money that could be used for reading programs in Elsanor, testing coaches at Robertsdale High or art instruction in Silverhill. One thing that the money cannot be used for is athletics, according to education system officials. It will be up to voters in central Baldwin to decide if the tax is appropriate. The main thing is that the people will have a chance to make that determination. It’s their property. It’s their money. It’s their children and it will be their choice. With each mill of ad valorem tax, a property owner pays $1 for each $10,000 in appraised value of his or her property. If the tax passes, the owner of a $300,000 home would pay another $90 a year, or $7.50 a month. When Spanish Fort and Fairhope voters cast their ballots, no one in Baldwin County knew what the exact results would be. Their schools are now receiving about $3.4 million a year in additional benefits. Central Baldwin voters can look at their neighbors to the east to decide if this is what they want for their schools and their children. The world in which those children will live is going to demand instruction and skills that their parents and grandparents did not have to learn. The question of whether this is one good way to help the next generation prepare for that world will be up to the voters.