Schools are not only ones facing financial problems

Published 8:53 am Thursday, February 13, 2003

By Staff
To the editor:
As you know, the Escambia County School Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell and the members of the board have recently been in the midst of a county-wide push to seek a tax increase to help the financially-struggling school system.
This letter is not to personally support or oppose the school board's efforts, but to inform them and others that education is not by itself with financial struggles as every household is being hard hit by continued escalating costs of living. Such things as food, clothing, utilities, healthcare and gasoline are items that are going skyward in cost, probably at a rate greater than the rate of proration that the state is imposing on school systems.
Education is a very important element in one's life, but jobs are also of great importance. We can't have one without the other. Just look at what has occurred in Atmore. First, they lose Vanity Fair jobs which no doubt removed retail dollars from Kmart, which is very likely a contributing factor to the store's closure, causing sales tax dollars to be removed from school funding. Almost daily we read or hear about companies reducing their workforce with some closing shop doors entirely, leaving many workers to be without paydays and being in proration of 100 percent.
We can educate to the highest degree, but if we don't have jobs here at home for the educated, they will most likely travel seeking employment in places such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville or elsewhere. When this happens they take their school tax dollars to those locations leaving the lower struggling wage earners at home to continue supporting a school system for oncoming generations.
I admit to not knowing how new gymnasiums in places like T.R. Miller and Flomaton came to be financed, but if from school funding, maybe those two new constructions could have been put on hold during these down times.
We should look toward Montgomery for help as many articles claim our statewide tax system is broken or never was in place properly. A Mobile Register editorial states that Alabama has the most aggressive tax incentives to foster economic development in the country - it's like buying jobs to locate within the state.
I hope the school board has no difficulty when recommending a school tax referendum after that board agreed by resolution on Nov. 14, 1996 to give the county 18 percent of a penny sales tax that was imposed in 1991 to be used exclusively for public school purposes. The 18 percent has amounted to more than $500,000 per year or roughly $3,000,000 since May 30, 1997. I hope the county commission meets with no difficulty when imposing a new school sales tax under Alabama Code 40-12-4 through 40-12-7. Since they have received the millions from the original school sales tax while also receiving millions in tipping fees from Timberlands landfill and then informing residents of McCullough on December 9, 2002 that there is no local money for paving roads.
Good luck in education while we all should hope for more quality jobs without them being bought with tax incentives.
James Strength

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