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Brewton BOE passes 10 mill resolution

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
Following the Escambia County School Board's lead, the Brewton Board of Education passed a resolution that requests a vote for a property tax hike.
In a special-called meeting held Friday morning, Brewton Superintendent Lynn Smith recommended the board approve the request which was very similar to the one passed by the county school board on Tuesday. The board approved the recommendation by a vote of 4-0, with board member Lilly Dove not in attendance to place a vote.
The resolution is a request by the system to the county commission to initiate steps that will allow to increase by 10 mills the taxes for property situated in Escambia County. This money would be raised for the sole purpose of providing additional funds to both the county and Brewton school systems.
According to Smith, the funds raised for schools through county taxes are divided between the county and city systems based on enrollment. Generally, he said that it is split with 78 percent going to the county schools and 22 percent going to the Brewton system.
School officials for both systems are looking to get a referendum through the Alabama legislature and onto a ballot for a May vote. Smith said if voters approve the measure in May that it would be January 2005 before the systems actually sees any additional funding.
Smith said approving the recommendation was a sign to the county commission that the city is in agreement with the county in terms of providing more funds for education.
While the city school system is not in as dire need of funding as the county system, Smith said the additional funds is still important for the schools in Brewton. For the Brewton system, getting the ad valorem increase now could save the system pain later.
Brewton City Schools are recipients of an additional five mill in ad valorem and additional sales tax that the county school system does not receive. But, Smith said that it would not take much for the city system to face the same problems as the county.
Regardless of the additional revenues, Smith said the city school system is having to tighten its belt just like most other systems.
Smith added that local residents should consider the benefits of providing additional funding to local schools.
For the city system, the 10 mill increase will help assure that it does not face the same problems that are currently facing the county.
The resolution will now go before the county commission which will hold a public hearing on March 10. At that point, the commission will vote whether to send it to the state legislature.