In what new Baldwin County schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler called an effort to be “made whole again,” the Baldwin County Commission approved a resolution adding the renewal of a four mills of ad valorem taxes to the March 2016 presidential primary ballot.
Currently, the county collects 12 mills of ad valorem tax revenue to support the Baldwin County public school system. In a special referendum earlier this year, voters in the county rejected an additional eight mills of ad valorem taxes the school system planned to use for a $350 million capital campaign. Voters also rejected the renewal of four mills of ad valorem taxes set to expire in 2016.
“We hope this upcoming vote will allow us to continue to move forward,” Tyler, who started his job as superintendent on Oct. 1, said. “All we are asking is to be made whole again, that’s all we are asking from the public. We’ve had tremendous growth in the county, and we will continue to grow. We want to make sure we can take care of that growth properly and continue to serve the children of Baldwin County in a positive manner.”
According to the Baldwin County school system, one mill in Baldwin County is worth approximately $3.9 million in funding.
Baldwin County Commissioner Frank Burt said having the millage on the presidential primary ballot could mean voters who wouldn’t normally turn out for a special referendum would have the chance to vote on the renewals.
“If we can get a good turnout and you have a positive message of being made whole again, I think it will pass,” Burt said. “I’m glad to see it back on the ballot.”
Commissioner Tucker Dorsey questioned the terminology of “being made whole,” saying that would better apply to a municipality receiving reparations from BP following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill rather than a failed tax referendum. However, he applauded the school system for its efforts to increase transparency in the wake of the wave of distrust many believe caused the referendum to fail.
“We certainly do have growth changes and challenges, and that growth impacts our educational needs,” Dorsey said, addressing Tyler and Board of Education President Shannon Cauley. “We support you entirely. When you do a good job it makes everything in our county better. The school system makes the county a better place and provides better economic opportunities for our community.”
In other business, Commission Chairman Skip Gruber passed the chairman’s gavel to Dorsey at the end of the meeting. The Commission’s chairmanship is a yearly rotating position.
“I’m not going anywhere, I still have three more years left,” Gruber said. “But it has been a remarkably good year. I appreciate the help of the staff and my fellow commissioners this year.”
The commission also approved a zoning change to allow the Apollo’s Mystic Ladies Mardi Gras parading group to build a float facility and meeting location on Friendship Road in Daphne.