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SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2007
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Hartselle property tax
Grantland pre-files legislation allowing city vote to raise money for new high school

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com· 340-2469

HARTSELLE — By mid-April at the latest, city leaders here will be able to hold an election for a proposed 12.5-mill property tax increase for a new Hartselle High School.

While in Montgomery on Tuesday for the state House organizational meeting, Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, pre-filed legislation for the vote.

“Legislative reference brought the bill back to me on Wednesday, and I signed it,” Grantland said.

The next step is to attach proof that the local bill has been advertised four weeks. Grantland said he will do that before the Legislature goes into session in March.

“Once we’re in session, it’s just a matter of getting the bill through the Senate and local legislative committee,” he said.

This shouldn’t be a problem because Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, has told city leaders that he will support the legislation.

Grantland said the bill doesn’t specify when Hartselle holds the election.

“It just gives the council the authority to do so,” he said.

School Superintendent William Michael Reed said he wants to have it sometime before school ends in May.

“If the schools feel like this is the best time, we’ll probably have the election in May,” Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

The school system is proposing to use money that the tax would generate to construct a high school with an estimated cost of between $25 million and $30 million.

Hartselle voters have historically rejected tax hikes. It 1990 and 2004, voters said no to proposed increases for the school system.

Hartselle residents pay 39.4 mills, which is less than homeowners pay in Decatur, Falkville and Trinity.

If the tax passes, Hartselle residents will pay the highest property taxes in Morgan County, with Decatur, where residents pay 45.3 mills, second.

During a public hearing in November, support for the tax and new school was overwhelming. But the almost 20 people who spoke for the tax represent less than 1 percent of Hartselle’s more than 8,000 registered voters.

A prelude to Hartselle’s vote will come Tuesday, when Morgan County voters decide whether to renew a 7.3-mill property tax for schools that generates almost $5 million annually.

Hartselle and Decatur schools do not receive any of that money, so voters in their corporate limits will not vote in the election.

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