Ad valorem renewal was an important topic discussed in the monthly DeKalb County Board of Education’s regular meeting.
The resolutions were adopted by the BOE to be carried to the DeKalb County Commission to be placed on the primary ballot for June 5.
There is a 1 mill, two 3 mill, and a 7.5 mill ad valorem tax up for renewal.
The millage rate is the amount per $1,000 used to calculate taxes on property. Millage rates are used by the school boards to calculate local school taxes to be collected based on a derivation of the total property value within school district boundaries.
There will be two petitions for the community to sign to keep the 1 mill and one of the 3 mill District School Taxes in place. A percentage of this is shared between the DeKalb County School System and Fort Payne City School System.
The other 3 mills and 7.5 mills will be on the June 5 primary ballot, all pending the county commission’s review.
The board explained it is a coincidence that all four of the renewals have come up at once.
Superintendent Jason Barnett spoke about funding of DeKalb County and referenced the funding to other state ran school systems in Alabama.
The loss of the local ad valorem tax money, would make it nearly impossible for DeKalb County Schools to operate, according to Barnett.
Barnett said the state requires the school district to have a minimum of 10 mill match to participate in the Foundation Program, and the county is at 14.5 mills.
According to a document from School Superintendents of Alabama, the Foundation Program was adopted in 1995 allowing schools throughout Alabama essential elements such as, teaching units—a minimum number of teachers, instructional support units —principals, administrative staff, counselors, etc., operational money and basic financial support.
“There are 137 school districts in the state of Alabama,” Barnett said. “When you take state funding, federal funding and local funding, the DeKalb County Board of Education lands at number 107 out of 137. There are 106 districts being funded better than we are.”
Barnett said the DeKalb County School Systems are fortunate and better off than many of the schools who receive more funding.
“Mr. [Anthony] Cooper has done a wonderful job of monitoring our finances and making sure we are where we need to be,” Barnett said. “We have the appropriate funding to do at least the minimum requirements of what we need, of course the more you have the more you can do.”
Board member Matt Sharp said 2 of the tax mills have been in place since the turn of the previous century, and the other has been in place since the 1960s.
Sharp said again this is not a new tax, this is something that has been in place, and the board is asking for the community to step up and help keep this funding in place so that the schools can continue the work they are doing.
For each of the petitions, Barnett said 200 signatures of landowners is required; all you will need to sign the petition is your name and address.
Barnett said Fort Payne will be voting on ad valorem tax renewals and petitioning as well.
“[Fort Payne City Schools and DeKalb County Schools] are both shooting for 200 signatures for these petitions in order to ensure that the ad valorem will be renewed.”
Barnett said the petition has been prepared and will be sent out to the schools and local businesses as soon as it is approved.
Barnett confirmed if you are married, as long as you are joint property owners, you and your spouse can both sign the petitions.
Barnett and the other board members are asking that the community’s support by voting to renew the ad valorem tax and signing the petition to keep them in place.