BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - For several years, the city of Gardendale used a $10 million property tax to collect money it hoped would help fund a new school system.
But earlier this year, a federal court denied the city’s efforts. Now the city council has voted to redirect $5 million of that money - about $750,000 a year - away from education and put it toward the general fund instead.
“For us, the cost of business continues to rise and our retail sales are still increasing, but not like we need them to,” says Gardendale Mayor Stan Hogeland. “This helps stabilize us to continue to provide the services the people out here expect and they’re going to get.”
Hogeland says the portion of money that’s been repurposed are the f$5 million the city council had control over, not the $5 million citizens voted to approve. The council does not have the authority to change the purpose of the latter.
Still, on social media, some residents are blasting the council’s decision, saying the money should only be used for education. Chris Orazine disagrees.
“I don’t know all the intricate details, but I do think in these situations we elect city leaders for a reason and this is one of those reasons,” he says. “I do think this does allow for some opportunities for the city to develop at the point we want it to and we trust the mayor and council have those thoughts at the forefront of their thoughts and decisions.”
Hogeland says those $5 million that have been re-purposed will go towards city services, like helping fire and police departments get equipment they may need. But it could also be used to help local schools out, if those needs arise.