Voters throughout Lauderdale County will go to the polls Aug. 27 to vote on millage tax renewals that have been on the books since 1954.

The Lauderdale County Commission will put on the special election.

The 11-mill renewal tax affects both the Florence and Lauderdale County school systems.

The taxes, which are on a 30-year voting cycle, were last voted on in 1993.

County and city voters will each have three taxes on the ballot — a 5.2-mill tax and a 1.8-mill tax that is shared by both school districts, and a 4-mill district tax.

Florence schools operate on 25 mills while Lauderdale County has 18 mills.

One mill in Lauderdale County generates $527,000 while a mill in Florence generates $358,000.

All together, the taxes generate $5.8 million for Lauderdale County schools and $3.9 million for Florence.

Lauderdale's annual education budget is $82 million, while Florence's is $53 million, which includes additional funds not generated by local millage rates.

Florence Schools Superintendent Jimmy Shaw said such elections with a single issue are good for voters in that there aren't other distractions to cloud their focus.

"Historically, when you look at elections, it's better to have a singular issue for voters to decide because its doesn't get lost in the shuffle," Shaw said. 

He added that the funding generated from the millage is crucial for the system's operation.

"In part, the money this millage generates is the reason we have 40 local teacher units," Shaw said, adding it provides for the extras in the system that benefit students, such as additional fine arts, career technical and foreign language offerings. "We can't be the Florence City Schools people have come to know us as without this money."

Shaw said that if the measure fails, cuts will have to be made as more than 90 percent of the system's budget is tied up in personnel costs.

"We can't stress enough that this isn't new money we're seeking," Shaw said of the vote. 

Lauderdale County Chief Schools Financial Officer Sherry Langley said the loss of such long-standing revenues would be devastating.

"It would be detrimental to the school system, a huge blow, and employees would have to be let go and capital projects put on hold," she said. "There would be no way around it."

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(1) comment

Laura Martin

Maybe the city of Florence can give them some of their revenue from that last tax increase they snuck in there!

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