School leaders ask for vote to keep one-cent tax in place
School officials have asked that voters be allowed to decide if a one-cent sales tax implemented in June 2010 can be kept in effect for two more years.
Franklin County Schools Superintendent Gary Williams asked the county commission this week to put the item on the March 2012 election ballot.
When the tax was voted on in June 2010, it was stipulated that it would be for a two-year period.
“Without that tax, I don’t know what the Franklin County schools would be like,” Williams said.
“We have lost $6 million due to proration over the last couple of years and this tax has helped us tremendously.”
Williams said all of the tax money generated is used for payroll and making debt payments.
“I don’t think anybody can look at our books and say we’ve wasted a dime,” Williams said.
“We don’t have a dime to waste.”
The one-cent sales tax added in 2010 provided additional revenue for both the Franklin County and Russellville city schools. The county receives 52 percent of the revenue generated and the city schools receive 48 percent. It is split the same way as another one-cent tax put in place years ago.
According to Russellville city schools officials, the one-cent tax generated $857,009 from July 2010 through June 2011. County schools should have received about $1.2 million over the same time period.
City schools superintendent Rex Mayfield said the system lost $2,998,000 through proration since the 2008-2009 school year.
“The tax has allowed us to offset a portion of the proration from last year,” he said. “Without it we would definitely have to borrow money.”
Money received from the state is used for salaries and benefits of employees, Mayfield said. When proration is put into place, the state cuts that percentage off the amount allocated to local systems.
The county commission is expected to vote Monday whether or not to put the item on the ballot. Probate Judge Barry Moore said he expects the item to be allowed on the ballot.
“I think we should let the people decide just like they did in 2010,” Moore said.
Williams said he would once again take the issue to county voters and plead for the sake of the schools.
“We are desperate to have this on the ballot and we are desperate for people to vote for it,” he said.
If allowed, the item will be on the same ballot as the March 2012 primaries.