The restructuring of a Baldwin County sales tax is expected to go to the Legislature at the end of the session break. The House and Senate reconvene in Montgomery April 4.
Some changes have occurred since the plan was approved by the Baldwin County Commission in early January and later by the school board, but the goals of giving the school system a more stable source of revenue and the county more money for roads and bridges are intact.
The County Commission enacted a 1 cent sales tax for public schools which goes into effect when the current tax ends May 31, 2018. The second piece of the plan restructures the use of another 1 cent tax dating back to 1984 and requires the Legislature’s approval.
That tax originally gave 55 percent of the proceeds to the school system, 40 percent to the commission and 5 percent to what is now Coastal Alabama Community College. The school board agreed to swap its percentage with the county to free up more money for roads.
But local legislators made two more changes to provide more local funding for the juvenile court system and the district attorney’s office. Due to state budget cuts and declines and local revenue, newly elected District Attorney Robert Wilters cut several assistant prosecutor positions when he took office earlier this year.
According to the Baldwin County legislative delegation office, the allocation of the 1 percent tax that goes before the Legislature is as follows:
• The tax is projected to generate about $31.85 million annually. There is a 2 percent collection fee that goes to the county, leaving $32.10 million.
• The juvenile courts get 2 percent off the top, or $624,186. The district attorney’s office gets $312,093. That leaves $30.27 million.
• Of the $30.27 million, 40 percent, or $12.11 million, goes to public schools.
• 55 percent, or $16.65 million, goes to the county. And CACC, or Coastal Alabama Community College, would retain the 5 percent but it could be used only in Baldwin County.
Some opposition remains in Baldwin County, and it surfaced last week at two town hall meetings convened by state Sen. Greg Allbritton. Allbritton said he wanted to let everyone have their say on the issue and to answer any questions.
Opponents have questioned the way the County Commission vote was handled, the lack of a another public referendum by the school board and whether the restructuring will ultimately damage the school system by diverting money to the county at the expense of the schools.
Here are the projected winners and losers:
• The school system loses $4.71 million but permanently retains the 1 cent tax passed by the county.
• The Baldwin County Commission gains $4.42 million.
• CACC loses $15,605.
• The district attorney’s office receives $312,094.