ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — A group in Central Baldwin has taken the first steps toward getting a property tax that would be used to fund education opportunities for local students.
At their regular meetings on Monday, May 3, both the Robertsdale City Council and Silverhill Town Council passed resolutions allowing for a referendum vote on a special 3-mil ad valorem tax that will be earmarked for the Central Baldwin Feeder Pattern.
In Robertsdale, administrators and educators from Robertsdale High School and Robertsdale Elementary School joined members of the Central Baldwin Education Foundation making the request to the city council.
“Our only position in this request is to allow the voters to vote on this matter,” said Chris Kerby, a local business owner representing the CBEF.
The tax is similar to those that were passed in 2019 by the cities of Fairhope and Spanish Fort. If passed it would generate 3 mills and run for the next eight years, which would coincide with the renewal schedule for the Spanish Fort tax. The Fairhope tax was approved for 30 years.
According to information provided by the group during the meeting, a 1 mil property tax is equal to .01 % (.0001) of appraised property value, or 6 % of the assessed value of farmland. Senior citizens would be exempt from the tax.
The tax is projected to generate from $700,000 to $750,000 per year to be spend toward making academic and capital improvements, personnel and extra-curriculars at Silverhill Elementary, Loxley Elementary, Elsanor Elementary, Rosinton Elementary, Robertsdale Elementary, Central Baldwin Middle and Robertsdale High schools.
Improvements would include providing additional education opportunities, programs and facilities for students in Central Baldwin, Kerby said.
“We all live here and we want to raise our kids here,” Kerby said. “We love our children and want to provide the best opportunities available to them. We feel this will give us that opportunity.”
The measure was passed unanimously by the Robertsdale City Council on May 3. Council member Paul Hollingsworth was unable to attend the meeting.
Mayor Jared Lyles said the Silverhill Town Council split on the measure following a nearly 30-minute discussion during its May 3 meeting. The measure passed 4-2 with council members Tonie Norden and Gerald Ardoin voting against the measure. Lyles and council members Steve Brooks, Wayne Gruenloh and Bert Jones voted for the measure.
In order to proceed to the next step in the process, the Loxley Town Council also had to approve a resolution at its meeting on Monday, May 10. Results from that vote were not available at press time.
If approved by all three councils, Kerby said, the group will need to gather 200 signatures on a petition, which will then be presented to the Baldwin County Commission for approval. If passed, the Commission will then set a date for a special referendum vote and a special election will be held for voters in Robertsdale, Loxley and Silverhill, along with other residents who belong to the Robertsdale High School feeder pattern.
If voters approve the tax, a Central Baldwin Education Committee would be formed, with three members appointed by each municipality to decide how the money is spent.
In other business May 3, the Robertsdale Council:
Rescheduled its July 5 meeting to July 6 because of the July 4 holiday.
Approved an ad renewal request by Gulf Coast Media for its annual Graduation section at a cost of $460.
Approved a new day care lease on city-owned property.
Approved the surplus of miscellaneous equipment for the city’s Public Works Department and the surplus of office equipment at city hall.
In other business May 3, the Silverhill Council:
Met with officials from Blackmon Insurance and AMIC but took no action on the proposed municipal insurance contract renewal.
Approved the replacement of a roof at the town’s treatment plant with Dugger Roofing at a cost of $7,500.
Discussed the renewal of the town’s mosquito control contract but took no action.
Discussed but took no action on the town’s garbage ordinance.
Received an update on the town’s paving project from Utilities Superintendent Scottie Smith.
Announced that the town’s Senior Lunch will resume in July and will be held the second Thursday of each month beginning July 8. For now, Lyles said, lunch will be prepared and served by the town and will not be potluck as in the past.