Breaking: Tuscaloosa County Residents Shoot Down Property Tax Increase for School System
The Tuscaloosa County Schools System will not benefit from funding that would have came from a property tax increase after residents voted against the increase Tuesday.
As previously reported, the special election held on Valentine's Day included two measures to provide $15 million in funding for the school district.
The vote only affected residents in the county. Tuscaloosa city residents have their own school district with its own municipal school system funded by a higher property tax rate inside the city limits.
The measures on Tuesday's ballots -- one that would raise property tax rates by 5 mills and a separate measure to raise it by another 3 mills, were both highly opposed by residents, earning almost 80 percent of votes against both measures.
Here are the results of tonight's election:
VOTES PERCENT PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 52) . . . . . 51 98.08 REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 84,147 BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . 14,306 BALLOTS CAST - BLANK. . . . . . . 1 .01 VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . 17.00 VOTER TURNOUT - BLANK . . . . . . LEVY OF A FIVE MILL SPECIAL DISTRICT SCHOOL TAX (VOTE FOR) 1 (WITH 51 OF 52 PRECINCTS COUNTED 98.08%) FOR proposed taxation . . . . . . 2,903 20.45 AGAINST proposed taxation . . . . . 11,295 79.55 Over Votes . . . . . . . . . 14 Under Votes . . . . . . . . . 94 LEVY OF A THREE MILL SPECIAL DISTRICT SCHOOL TAX (VOTE FOR) 1 (WITH 51 OF 52 PRECINCTS COUNTED 98.08%) FOR proposed taxation . . . . . . 3,107 21.85 AGAINST proposed taxation . . . . . 11,110 78.15 Over Votes . . . . . . . . . 1 Under Votes . . . . . . . . . 88
Keri Johnson, superintendent of TCSS, asked for the special election back in November. Johnson said the board asked for two separate measures to give residents some middle ground between the full 8-mill increase and a no vote.
Currently, residents in the county are taxed at a 10-mill rate, where on average, property worth $100,000 would be taxed $100 annually.
Leading up to the election, leaders in Tuscaloosa Count asked residents to vote against raising property taxes to fund the local school system over allegations of racism at Hillcrest High and other schools in the district.
The Tuscaloosa Chapter of the NAACP called for the opposition during a press conference Monday afternoon after Lisa Young, the organization's president, said the assistant principal of Hillcrest told students, including senior Jamiyah Brown, that the school's Black History program should not include topics from before 1970 - including slavery and the Civil Rights movement - because they would make some people uncomfortable.
School administrators said the conversation never occurred, but after not being able to come to a common ground, a protest sparked on February 8 where hundreds of students walked out of the school during instruction.
The proposed property increase would have funded several project in the school system, including five entirely new schools, widespread improvements and additions to athletic facilities, more school resource officers and building security improvements and a Pre-K program for all students.
Author's Note: At the time of publication, 49 out of 52 precincts were reporting results, with over 70 percent of votes counted, allowing the race to be unofficially called by the Tuscaloosa Thread. The official count will be updated once every precinct is accounted for.