ROBERTSDALE — The Baldwin County Commission met Tuesday, Sept. 28 certifying the Sept. 21 3-mil property tax vote for Central Baldwin County.
According to official results released by the Baldwin County Probate Office, just under 7.7 % of eligible voters in school voting District 5 cast ballots in the election, a total of 1,685 votes out of 21,889 eligible voters.
An additional eight votes, three absentee and five provisional, were added to the official total following the Sept. 28 Commission meeting, all cast in favor of the tax, bringing the total to 853 votes for (50.62 %) versus 832 votes against the tax.
“We’re excited,” said Chris Kerby following the Sept. 21 election. Kerby serves as Tax Committee chairman for the Central Baldwin Education Foundation and is one of nine members appointed to the Central Baldwin Education Committee. “A lot of people were surprised by the low turnout and were surprised that it didn’t pass with flying colors, but this is a big change and it’s up to us now to take it and see what we can do.”
More than half of the votes cast in the election (56.9 %) came from two precincts, both of which voted overwhelmingly in favor of the tax.
The largest majority came at the PZK Hall in Robertsdale with about 58 % of voters (255) casting their ballots in favor of the tax, with 185 against. The most votes were actually cast in Central Baldwin’s smallest municipality with a total of 518 votes cast at the Silverhill Community Center with 57.3 % (297) voting in favor of the tax.
For the Sept. 21 election, voters in Precinct 30, who would normally cast ballots at the Marlow Fire Department, also cast ballots in Silverhill. Voters from Precinct 31 who would normally cast ballots at the Summerdale Community Center, were slated to vote at the PZK Hall for the Sept. 21 election.
Only one other precinct voted in favor of the tax with 33 voters at the Ellisville Community Center (including voters from New Life Church in Spanish Fort) voting yes with 26 no votes.
Additional precincts included the Loxley Civic Center, which included voters from the Stapleton Fire Department, (68-75); Gateswood Volunteer Fire Department (24-62); Clear Springs Fellowship Church (4-27); Rosinton United Methodist Church (114-158); Bethel Baptist Church in Elsanor (38-53); and Seminole Volunteer Fire Department (12-25).
The tax is similar to those that were passed in 2019 by the cities of Fairhope and Spanish Fort. If passed it would run for the next eight years, which would coincide with the renewal schedule for the Spanish Fort tax. The Fairhope tax was approved for 30 years.
According to information provided by the Central Baldwn Education Foundation, a 1 mil property tax is equal to .01 % (.0001) of appraised property value, or 6 % of the assessed value of farmland. Senior citizens would be exempt from the tax.
The tax is projected to generate from $700,000 to $750,000 per year to be spent toward making academic and capital improvements, personnel and extra-curriculars at Silverhill Elementary, Loxley Elementary, Elsanor Elementary, Rosinton Elementary, Robertsdale Elementary, Central Baldwin Middle and Robertsdale High schools.
Improvements would include providing additional education opportunities, programs and facilities for students in Central Baldwin.
A nine-member committee has been appointed to work with schools and the Baldwin County School System to decide how the money will be spent. The nine-member committee includes three members appointed by each of the three municipalities.
Once the election is certified, Kerby said, the committee will meet to go over the governing rules, how the committee plans to meet going forward, and set an agenda to meet the biggest needs in local schools.
“Reading and math are hot button issues that need to be addressed,” he said. “Over the coming months we will be working closely with principals and teachers to determine which schools have the biggest needs and where we will be able to make the most impact.”