FLORENCE — Tuesday marks the first time since 1993 that residents of Lauderdale County will have the opportunity to vote on an 11-mill renewal tax, in a special election, that benefits both the city and county school systems.

Officials in both school districts say the tax is paramount to their operations, generating $5.8 million for Lauderdale schools and $3.9 million for Florence city schools.

Tuesday's single-focus ballot will have voters in the county and city deciding on three separate millage taxes – 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 is at 18 mills.

Florence Superintendent Jimmy Shaw said the 11 mills his district receives accounts for about 15 percent of its teaching and staff salaries.

"It's simply money that's crucial to our operation and what we do in Florence City Schools with our offerings, including the extras that benefit students," Shaw said. 

Lauderdale County Superintendent Jon Hatton said he's encouraged the vote will go the school district's way, and the tax will be renewed.

Both Hatton and Shaw say it's important to remind voters that this isn't a new tax, just a continuation of revenues their respective districts have depended on since 1954.

In Lauderdale County, the revenue generated by the 11 mills accounts for about 88 teacher units out of the district's 447.

"This money also helps us provide technology, arts opportunities and some other extras that our students are deserving of," Hatton said. 

"I'm hoping that our tradition of educational support in our county holds true on Tuesday."

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