Some Tuscaloosa County residents will soon vote on proposed property tax increase

“There’s a quote that education is the great equalizer. The one thing we can give our children that can potentially change the entire course of their lives is an education. ”

Tuscaloosa County School System Superintendent Keri Johnson tells me right now Tuscaloosa County’s property tax rate for education is 10 mills, which is the lowest amount permitted by law to receive state funding

The February 14th vote proposes an 8 mill increase for property owners in Tuscaloosa County.

The Alabama Department of Revenue defines a mill as one-tenth of 1 cent.

Johnson said the increase would give $15 million more to the school system for improvements.

“Some of our needs that are non-construction related, are school security,” Johnson said. “We would like to add school resource officers so that we could eventually have one in every school. Right now, we have 11 across our 35 schools. We also have some things we want to do to our facilities to make them safer. We want all children to have high quality Pre-K. So, our goal would be to expand our classrooms to the point where we would no longer have a waiting list to get into Pre-K, so in conjunction with our private Pre-Ks and church Pre-Ks, we want to make sure that every child in Tuscaloosa County has the opportunity to go to a high-quality Pre-K program.”

Some funds, however, would be used for construction.

“The construction projects that have identified as being our most pressing needs are really to just take care of the high growth areas where we don’t have enough space or our facilities that are aging and are at the point where they are in disrepair, and we need to replace them with new facilities,” Johnson said.

Most people don’t like the thought of increased taxes on anything. But how much more money would this increase mean for Tuscaloosa County homeowners?

Here’s some perspective: Property owners would pay around 20 cents more per day on every $100,000.00 their home is assessed for.

For a $100,000.00 assessed home, that’s about $75 more a year, which breaks down to a little more than $6 a month.

Johnson said she hopes people will look past the increase and to the future for Tuscaloosa County students.

“We as individuals can choose to reduce our costs,” she said. “We cannot go out to eat one time . We can reduce our costs in ways that we have to when costs increase. We can’t do that in education. We can’t choose to not have nurses in our schools, to not have special ed services, so we don’t really have a way to reduce costs when things get more expensive when things get more expensive. This is the only way that we have to bring in more revenue for the school system. We just know that people here in Tuscaloosa County love their children and love us. They love our school system and we hope they will support us in this endeavor.”

Johnson said TCSS staff members have met with almost all of the faculties and staffs system wide to equip them with the knowledge they need to know about the upcoming vote.

Public information meetings will also be held in each attendance zone before the vote.

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