If you live anywhere in Lee County, remember to go to the polls to vote on whether or not to reauthorize existing property taxes to fund local school systems.
Lee County Schools Superintendent Mac McCoy is urging voters to vote in favor of the school tax renewals in a statement on the system’s website.
“Hello, I am Mac McCoy, superintendent of Lee County Schools, and I need your help,” McCoy said. “On Feb. 19, we will have an opportunity to renew existing county wide property taxes that fund the Lee County Schools. The county wide tax authorization comes from the Lee County Commission. The commission has set a special election for Feb. 19, 2019, to allow Lee County residents to vote on this important tax.”
“The countywide tax is shared based on student enrollment by Opelika City Schools, the Auburn City Schools and the Lee County Schools based on enrollment,” McCoy added. “On the ballot in Lee County, you will find six different measure to renew all of our property taxes. Pertaining to the Lee County wide taxes, there will two taxes voted on that will be shared by all three systems based on enrollment.”
McCoy said that there will be four district ball issues specifically for Lee County schools.
“These taxes generated $12 million last year for the Lee County students,” McCoy said. “The funds generated from these taxes support the majority of our locally funded programs including instructional personnel, Art, music, supplemental student services and a significant portion of our maintenance costs of our schools. There is also listed a renewal list by the Lee County Youth Developmental Center as proposed by the juvenile law enforcement. This helps fund the programs at Lee County Youth Developmental Center. Please talk to your friends and neighbors and urge them of the importance of voting for renewing all of these taxes. A quality education is vitally important to the future of the children of our community.”
“I encourage you to go out to the polls on Feb. 19 to vote in favor of this tax renewal,” McCoy said. “Thank you for your continued support and commitment to Lee County Schools so that we can continue to provide the best possible education for the children in our community.”
Auburn City Schools Superintendent Karen DeLano told The Auburn Villager that these are property tax renewals and are not tax increases.
“Most of these taxes have been in existence for over 90 years, so obviously, no new taxes,” DeLano said.
DeLano said the taxes help pay for fine arts programs, career technical programs and transportation, among other things.
“We talk about the importance of local money,” DeLano said. “Local money is absolutely essential for us to continue to provide what we provide for our students, our resources.”
Opelika City Schools officials are similarly supportive of the tax renewal. The system posted a plea to supporters on Facebook:
“February 19, 2019 is an important day for the Opelika City Schools. A special election will be held to RENEW county-wide property taxes. The funds generated from these taxes are extremely important to our schools. This is not a tax increase so we encourage you to approve the RENEWAL of these taxes on February 19.”
There is opposition to the renewals, who are urging voters to vote no to send a message to elected officials that taxes are high enough already. The opponents object to school resources being used to advocate for a political outcome and also object to spending tax dollars on a special election instead of having this on the November general election ballot.
Voters should remember to bring a valid photo ID to the polls and to vote at their assigned polling place.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Original reporting by The Auburn Villager and WLTZ TV news contributed to this report.