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Hartselle school board OKs new tax resolution

By Deangelo McDaniel

HARTSELLE — To make sure voters know exactly where money from a proposed 12.5-mill property tax increase will be spent, the Hartselle Board of Education adopted a second resolution.

"This ties down (the money) to building a new high school and items associated with a new high school," Superintendent William Michael Reed said at Monday's board meeting.

At a separate meeting, the Hartselle City Council agreed to pass the same resolution. City leaders said they will ratify their decision Tuesday night.

The new resolution the school board passed specifies that the money would be used for a "new high school" and not for "public school purposes" as stated in the first resolution.

Between Dec. 14 and Jan. 4, the school system advertised a local tax amendment that did not specify the money's purpose.

Reed said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, called the first bill's language to the school system's attention.

Orr, who will have to introduce the bill in the state Senate, said Hartselle should say "new high school" in the bill if the city is going to ask people to make the estimated $25 million to $30 million investment.

Heyward C. Hosch, the Birmingham attorney handling the legislation for Hartselle, has been advertising a second bill in the Hartselle Enquirer since March 22.

Hosch said he decided to advertise the bill a second time because the changes narrowed the purpose of how the school system can use the money.

"It was a significant change," he said.

Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, said the school system must publish the bill four consecutive weeks before he can introduce it in the House.

The current legislative session runs through June 15, leaving enough time to get the bill through the House and Senate so residents can vote in October.

Reed said the school system plans to begin its pro-tax campaign in August.

"This is a hard road to hoe, but this is something we can do," the superintendent said. "We're going to do this. I have no doubt about that."

"I agree," board Chairman Dr. Andy Dukes said. "I'm optimistic this can be done."

Board member Jennifer Sittason is chairwoman of the campaign. She said the key is informing the public and keeping it involved.

Since 1990, Hartselle voters have twice overwhelmingly defeated tax increases for schools.

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