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Limestone schools
bracing for BRAC

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — Limestone County Schools are bracing for an influx of new workers at Redstone Arsenal and may seek more money from taxpayers.

County Commissioner Bill Latimer, who was acting chairman at Wednesday's meeting, said he has heard rumors that the school system will approach the commission about a sales-tax increase.

Latimer said the Board of Education currently receives all of the county's 2-cent tax.

"I'm not in favor of raising that sales tax," Latimer said.

"I don't mean to sound aggravated, but people think we, the commission, get all of that money, and we don't get any of it. I know the Board of Education needs every bit it's getting, but I'm not in favor of raising it because people will go and shop elsewhere where it is cheaper."

$100 million capital plan

The school system has a $100 million, five-year capital plan that includes three new elementary schools.

Superintendent Barry Carroll expects that by 2012, Limestone will have one of the largest county systems in the state, about 10,000 students.

The federal Base Realignment and Closure process, which will move jobs to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, will fuel that growth.

Carroll said in a phone interview that neither he nor the school board has approached the commission about a tax increase, but he alluded to the possibility.

"We are working on our capital plan, which obviously is going to require looking at some type of funding source," Carroll said.

"That plan is something we will have to discuss with the commission at some point."

The sales tax became a topic at the commission meeting when the county's tax collector, AlaTax, reported that the county is "very healthy."

From 2005 to 2006, the county saw 9 percent growth in sales tax revenue, from $12.01 million to $13.08 million.

AlaTax's Pete Yonce said the county's top five sales tax producers alone contributed 12 percent growth.

"And your top five are only making up 26 percent of your sales tax revenue, which is good," Yonce said. "In many jurisdictions, the top five make up 50 percent. You're much more diversified."

Warehouse clubs and supercenters generated the most revenue, $1.89 million. Building material dealers came in second at $664,550.

"You know with all the growth going on that home building is doing well," said Commissioner Bill Daws.

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