By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Voters in Baldwin County sent a message to the County’s education establishment when they rejected a proposed 8 mill property tax increase. The crushing defeat was doubly devastating to the schools system because not only did voters reject the tax increases, they also voted not to renew some existing property taxes, which were inexplicably placed on the same ballot.
Over 31,000 voters went to the polls to vote “NO” against any new taxes. It was a crushing defeat for the tax proponents. The tax increase proposals went down in flames. The five mill tax increase was defeated by 69.05 percent to just 30.95 percent. The three mill tax increase was defeated 68.7 percent to just 31.3 percent. The 36 percent voter turnout for the tax referendum was substantially higher than in either election last year.
Education officials have until September to schedule another vote on the renewals.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler alleged that, “Over $210,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent by the Baldwin Ct Board of Education pushing the yes vote in this Tuesday’s tax increase referendum in Baldwin County.”
Zeigler detailed the allegations that school resources were illegally misused to promote the vote.
Zeigler charged that the, “School system has manipulated students and misused their position. School board has illegally spent over $210,000 of the taxpayers’ money on the yes campaign (and none on the no campaign).”
Zeigler said after the vote on Facebook, “We see a strong backlash against Baldwin BOE using tax $ for yes campaign. Voters go NO on increases, close on renewals.”
The vote “No” campaign, Educate Baldwin Now, successfully made the point that Baldwin County Schools already spend more than $5000 per student in local funds. That is substantially more than Jefferson County, Montgomery County, Shelby County, Elmore County, Tuscaloosa County, Mobile County, Madison County, or any other large school system in the state.
According to some opponents estimates a yes vote could have cost Baldwin County taxpayers as much as a $ billion over the next 30 years.
It is not known how this thunderous vote against higher taxation in one of Alabama’s most prosperous counties will impact Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) call for the state legislature to pass higher taxes on the people of Alabama to deal with a budget shortfall in the state’s troubled general fund.
The Baldwin County School Board has threatened to place more children in portable classrooms if they did not get the money they demanded from voters.