State Representative Steve McMillan (R) will introduce legislation next week that asks state lawmakers to split the penny sales tax in Baldwin County between both the county’s public school systems.
Currently the penny sales tax generates roughly $30 million annually. A local law currently on the books divides that money between the Baldwin County Public Schools, the Juvenile Court for Baldwin County, the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office, Coastal Alabama Community College and a general fund for road and bridge construction and maintenance that is overseen by the Baldwin County Commission.
McMillan, who represents State House District No. 95, which includes the city of Gulf Shores, said that school officials there “felt like a lot of that tax revenue comes from Gulf Shores and the visitors to Gulf Shores and they should be entitled to the same amount of money per pupil as the county.”
“From that perspective it is hard to argue with,” McMillan said. “They’re paying way more than their fair share into the county system.”
The current law requires that Baldwin County Schools receive 40 percent of the collected taxes to use for “capital improvement, capital construction and maintenance purposes.” The city used these funds for its Build Baldwin Campaign, allowing it to build several new schools and additions to existing schools since the law was passed in 2017.
According to an FAQ sheet distributed by Baldwin County Schools in 2020 during the Build Baldwin Campaign, penny tax money helps to “keep 518 critically needed teachers and support professionals on the job.”
During the often contentious meetings held to hammer out details when the island schools split from Baldwin County, leaders of the two school systems agreed that Baldwin County Schools would keep all tax revenues until Oct. 1, 2019.
Gulf Shores City Schools opened their doors in August 2019 to students in grades K – 12.
Representatives from Baldwin County Public Schools and Gulf Shores City Schools declined to comment when contacted by Gulf Coast Media.