Shelby County prepares for school tax renewal vote

By Alan Collins

SHELBY COUNTY, ALA. (WBRC) -Shelby County residents are experiencing a big push to vote for a school tax renewal on Tuesday. Shelby County voters are being asked to renew a 30 mill property tax for another 30 years to support the county's schools. At Helena Elementary School, teachers and parents were wearing T-shirts backing the renewal vote.

"It pays assistance salaries. It pays assistant principals. It pays to run the school. It pays for security. It pays to keep our children safe," Flo Dassau, a parent of a Helena Elementary student, said.

At the Shelby County Board of Education, a sign out front and buttons worn by board employees displayed support for the renewal. Shelby County Superintendent Randy Fuller says it is an important vote.

"We feel like this is the most important decision the citizens of Shelby County will make for the next 30 years for the future of the children of Shelby County," Fuller said.

The school system is pushing to renew the tax six years earlier than when it's up for renewal. This will allow the school system to float a new bond deal to finance more school construction and another needs.

"We have grown by 8,000 students over the last ten years. A growth of 3,000 is expected in the next six years," Fuller said.

Raising Taxes is urging voters to reject the renewal. Some taxpayers admit they are not convinced there is a need for the money.

"I don't like new taxes. I think we are taxed to the hilt right now." Pat Aquinlino, a taxpayer said.

Even a parent with child in the school system questions the need for the tax.

"I don't think it's going to benefit the Pelham school system as much as it will schools like Helena," Shawn Brown said.

Fuller says the high growth areas in the county are Helena, Alabaster, Chelsea and Calera. Backers of the tax fear overcrowding if the tax is rejected.

"If you stop this now and don't plan for the future, you are not going to be able to get more money into building new classrooms and helping to increase the size of schools," Dassau said.

Fuller says if the tax is rejected the school board will likely call for another vote at some point because of the importance to the school system's future.

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