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SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2007
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Hartselle board seeks funding to build new high school

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

HARTSELLE — In an apparent effort to salvage plans for a new Hartselle High School, the school board will meet Monday with the City Council.

Mayor Dwight Tankersley said board Chairman Dr. Andy Dukes has asked to be placed on the council’s work session agenda.

Dukes was not available for comment. Tankersley said the chairman plans to talk about school funding and answer questions about the school system’s finances.

“He told me he’s going to talk about a plan on how the school system can help pay for the new school,” Tankersley said.

The council majority has for about two years questioned the financial operation of the school system, but school system finances are not holding up the new high school.

Councilman Bill Drake has opted against a resolution asking Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, and Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, to sponsor local legislation for a vote on a proposed 12.5-mill property tax increase.

While it is not law, Grantland and Orr have said they will not sponsor the bill unless the council vote is unanimous.

Drake said he did not support the resolution because he no one has shown him proof that a voting majority wants the tax increase.

History supports him. Voters overwhelmingly rejected tax increases for schools in 1990 and 2004.

Petition

Drake has asked the school system to get a petition of registered voters requesting the tax vote.

If he changes his mind on the resolution, Hartselle voters
will be voting on a tax increase at the same time they are electing the next city administration.

This same scenario played out in the 2004 municipal election when voters rejected a 7.5 mill tax increase and the entire city government.

Dukes could opt for a different method of financing the high school. A 1-cent sales tax increase would generate more money than the property tax and requires only a majority vote of the council.

Previous proposal

Tankersley proposed a 1-cent increase in May, but a council majority turned down the plan.

A one-penny hike would increase the sales-tax rate in Hartselle from 8 cents to 9 cents.

This is what customers pay in Decatur. In rural areas of Morgan County, it is 7 cents.

Councilman Samie Wiley, who opposed the 1-cent increase in May, said the school board should tighten its belt and put some of the money on the table for the new school.

Tankersley said Dukes is going to “open the books” for the council Monday.

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