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Tax vote strategy is mulled

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Managing Editor
The Brewton City School Board discussed a number of measures it is planning to generate support for the upcoming school tax vote at its regular meeting last Thursday.
Voters will be heading to the polls Dec. 9 to decide the fate of two measures. The first would renew an existing three-mill education tax, and the second would implement a new 10-mill tax.
Brewton City and Escambia County School District officials have been actively pushing for the new tax measures, which are needed to make up for funds the state has taken away due to a revenue shortage that has impacted many public services, including the schools.
Funds the new taxes would generate are needed for the schools to operate at acceptable levels, officials say.
Members of the city school board, along with their counterparts on the county school board, have already travelled to the county schools and spoken to staff there about the importance of encouraging people to vote for the tax.
Soon, city school board members will be meeting with employees within the city system.
Plans are underway to communicate with potential supporters via email and telephone. The idea is that teachers and other school employees will take the message back to their neighborhoods and encourage others to vote yes.
The board also plans to contact all registered voters in the county by phone to explain to them the importance of the Dec. 9 vote.
Some of the board's plans will lead to visible markers throughout Brewton and Escambia County in the coming weeks.
One calls for distribution of signs encouraging a yes vote, which can be placed around homes and businesses.
Generally, the board is hoping to generate one yes vote for every school child in the city and county systems, which people who have participated in such votes before have told them is normally a ratio that leads to success.
The board's efforts follow closely on the heels of the initial distribution of a brochure touting the benefits of voting yes on Dec. 9.
The brochure explains that there are several factors that have gone into creating the need for more local support of the schools, most notably a $4,182,658 decrease in state funding over the past four years.
Inside the brochure, under the heading, "What will happen if this tax does not pass," are listed a number of negative circumstances the schools say will arise if the vote for the new tax measure fails. Among them is the warning that "Possible loss of accreditation would affect students' college admission status."
Also included are lists of things the schools are considering having to cut for fiscal year 2005 if the tax is not passed. The county schools would look to:
The Brewton City Schools would look at having fewer classroom teachers, and an increased pupil/teacher ratio.
The brochure lists a number of things the school districts have already done to save money. According to the brochure, the county schools have:
The brochure states that the Brewton City Schools have:
The cost to taxpayers for the new, additional support the 10-mill increase would offer the schools is spelled out in detail.
The tax on homes and land would amount to an additional $50 a year for properties valued at $50,000, and an additional $100 a year for properties valued at $100,000.
The tax on vehicles would amount to an additional $30 a year for vehicles valued at $20,000, and an additional $60 a year for vehicles valued at $40,000.