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THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2007
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Limestone tax hike set for discussion March 14

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ATHENS — It will be a week before county officials discuss a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase.

Limestone County Commission Chairman David Seibert said the Board of Education's proposal will be on the commission's March 14 work session agenda.

The commission won't vote on the resolution at the work session, but could vote at its March 19 meeting.

The school board and Superintendent Barry Carroll are asking for a countywide referendum in August on a 1-cent sales tax increase.

If approved by voters, the hike would raise the sales tax rate in the county to 7 cents on the dollar and in Athens to 9 cents.

Seibert said he sent the board's resolution to the county attorney and has notified Probate Judge Mike Davis.

"I want to make sure we follow procedure and that we have all the information we need," Seibert said.

For example, Seibert said, he thinks a countywide referendum requires the commission's unanimous approval.

"I don't think there is going to be a problem with sending this to the voters or with getting a vote that early (August), but I want to check into everything," Seibert said.

Carroll said the additional tax would bring in an estimated $5 million for the system in 2008. Athens City Schools would also get a share of the increase. The tax revenue would be split between the two, based on student population, meaning about 75 percent would go to county schools.

The board put limits on the tax. It would end in 10 years unless voters renewed it.

The board also could spend the money only on capital needs, such as acquiring land, building schools and gyms, renovations and expansions.

The board wants to back a $50 million bond issue with the tax money to address growth issues, such as building new elementary feeder schools for Clements, Elkmont and East Limestone high schools.

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