It was full speed ahead for a vote of additional millage taxes in the Gulf Shores High feeder pattern until Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon threw up a barricade.
The Orange Beach City Council was set to vote on a memorandum of understanding that would have helped move a vote on new millage taxes forward, but Kennon said he felt the agreement wasn’t fair to Orange Beach.
While the city of Gulf Shores had already voted their approval for the measure, Kennon felt he couldn’t support the measure without substantial changes to the agreement, including the makeup of a board of trustees that would make recommendations as to how the tax monies raised could be spent.
The presentation from the Community Advisory Task Force about the special tax district, its impact and how it could be administered was cut at the eleventh hour by mayoral request, from a 30-minute presentation to a 10-minute one.
Other council members said they didn’t have a problem with the memorandum in its current form and were puzzled by Kennon’s sudden issues.
“The items the mayor wants changed, I can live with,” Councilman Jeff Silvers said. “But I’ve been working on this for two months and have asked him for his input but have been given none.”
We find the timing of Kennon’s sudden change of heart to be somewhat convenient, as the meeting was scheduled after qualifications for running for office in the city had already been closed.
If the public in Orange Beach had known of Kennon’s staunch opposition to the special tax district in its current form, there could have been a candidate to step up to challenge him – instead, Kennon will now be re-elected unopposed.
We also question the legality of his move to try to cut the school board completely out of the decision making process as to how the monies raised in the district can be spent.
While he doesn’t want the board to “continue to control our destiny,” the fact remains that the island’s schools remain a part of the Baldwin County School System and have to be governed as such.
It seems as though Kennon may still have hard feelings from the school split vote he campaigned hard for two years ago and lost by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, so now that he’s in a position of power, he’s asking for his pound of flesh – to the detriment of the feeder pattern’s children.
The residents of Orange Beach don’t want to be in the business of running schools, Mayor. They told you that at the ballot box.
Even if he wins his demand to get full control over how the new taxes would be spent, the school board would still have the authority to hire staff for the schools and make sure the classrooms are equipped with all the tools they need to help students succeed.
So, Mr. Kennon, think about what you’re doing and consider what’s best for the people of your city and region.
More pontificating and grandstanding might not be your best option here, sir.