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Hartselle moves back tax vote
Election may be held in October; increase would fund construction of high school

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you're still wondering whether to support the proposed property tax increase for a new Hartselle High, you have more time to think about it.

The special election that school and city officials were planning to have in May will probably be moved to October, said Mayor Dwight Tankersley.

"We're not going to be able to meet the legal requirements to have the election in May," Tankersley said.

Here's the problem:

Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, has pre-filed the bill, but the Legislature does not go into session until March.

It will probably be mid-April before the bill is signed into law. After that, Hartselle must advertise the election for 60 days. This means it will be June before the council can schedule the election.

"We don't want to hold the election while school is out, so that's why we'll probably move it to October," Tankersley said.

Another factor that contributed to the delay is when Hartselle can start collecting the proposed 12.5 mill increase.

"We're going to have to wait a full year regardless of whether the election is in May or October," Tankersley said.

If voters say yes, property owners will start paying the tax increase in 2009.

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

Fighting history

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. Decatur residents will pay the second highest, 45.3 mills.

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.

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