2 Chelsea city councilors offer different plan for schools

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 3:50 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2022 at 3:54 PM CDT
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CHELSEA, Ala. (WBRC) - Some Chelsea city leaders have proposed breaking away from the Shelby County Schools district. Two Chelsea City Councilors have released a new plan that would provide financial support for Chelsea-area schools but keep the schools in the Shelby County district.

In the original plan the city would create their own school district where they would be able to raise money for renovations or even new facilities.

But to do that, the city would have to raise taxes.

“The complaint is taxes. I understand that. Nobody wants to pay more taxes,” said Mayor Tony Picklesimer.

Picklesimer stressed that several schools have been outgrown for years.

“Our middle school has been around for decades and decades and decades…the sixth grade, which is the entry level for the middle school they don’t have lockers, there is no room to put lockers,” said Mayor Picklesimer.

The city recently received a feasibility study on the potential move.

Chelsea City Councilman Cody Sumners and Councilman Casey Morris provided WBRC FOX6 News with their proposal, which they said would not require additional taxes, to address the needs of the schools.

According to Councilman Sumners, “The citizens of Chelsea deserve to know that the taxation option being presented by the mayor is not the only option, nor is it the best option for the City of Chelsea.”

Councilman Morris said, “During these times of unprecedented price increases on everything from energy to baby food, I do not feel comfortable asking our hard-working citizens for more of their paycheck.”

An overview of the councilors proposal is presented below:

  • NO Additional taxes on the citizens of Chelsea.
  • Utilize available funds from the current one-cent education sales tax
  • Utilize available funds from current city bonds issued in October 2021
  • Leverage the current one-cent education sales tax in the bond market for improvements/renovations at the current schools in the Chelsea city limits. (The current one-cent sales tax brings in yearly revenue equivalent to 10 mills of property tax; approximately $2.2M a year. These sales tax proceeds could easily fund bond issuances yielding up to $30M for school projects.)
  • The schools would still belong to the Shelby County Board of Education and they would still make regularly scheduled upgrades. All additional funds from the City of Chelsea bonds would be for additional upgrades and renovations to the current schools to address concerns regarding the current facility needs as outlined by citizens and council members.
  • A citizen board would be established to work with local school administrators to determine needs and priorities for the schools.
  • The citizen board would then prioritize projects for the schools in the city limits of Chelsea.
  • The citizen board would make a presentation/request to the SCBOE to proceed with agreed upon projects.
  • SCBOE would be responsible for all aspects of the construction.
  • No funds from the bonds would be transferred to SCBOE until requested for each project, when an invoice is received from SCBOE.
  • This proposal would not require any additional tax from the citizens of Chelsea and would allow much needed facilities upgrades/renovations in a much timelier manner than the current proposal for a property tax increase.
  • This would allow all funding to go towards facilities issues, which have been identified as the only issue with the schools.
  • The current proposal for a property tax is primarily to cover administrative costs. This proposal does not duplicate services and allows all funding to go directly where it is actually needed.
  • This proposal would allow us to help bring the schools up to the expectations of the citizens of Chelsea, so that when the city is in a more financially viable place, we can revisit the city school issue and the schools will already have received the needed renovations and upgrades.
  • Additionally, under the mayor’s plan, the current one-cent sales tax would no longer be available to fund current projects like the Nick Grant program. The revenue generated by those sales tax proceeds would be dedicated to funding City School overhead and capital items.

Click here to see the Chelsea City Schools feasibility study.

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