Voters keep schools tax in place
School officials were all smiles Tuesday evening as more and more positive results streamed in from precincts across the county affirming the one-cent sales tax that benefits both the county and city schools systems would be reinstated for another two years.
The sales tax passed in every precinct and ultimately passed by a margin of 1,805 votes, which was a vast improvement from the 500-vote margin from two years ago.
“I am humbled by this tax vote and the support it has received,” Franklin County Superintendent Gary Williams said. “It is good to see the citizens care about the children of Franklin County and the education they receive.”
The one-cent sales tax, which was implemented in 2010, generated $857,009 for the city schools from July 2010 through June 2011 and county school officials said their system received about $1.2 million over that same time period.
School officials said in these tough economic times where they have been cut 23.5 percent in proration and receive zero money for textbooks, they need all the help they can get.
Russellville City Schools Superintendent Rex Mayfield said the tax was absolutely imperative to their operations, especially if their budget for the upcoming school year is as bad as some officials have projected.
“This one-cent tax will allow us to maintain the current teachers and programs we have,” Mayfield said. “Losing this money would have been devastating for us as a school system, but it would have been devastating to the students. We want to give them the best education possible and funding like this helps us be able to do that.”
Williams said Franklin County residents could rest assured that every penny would be well-spent.
“We will not have one single cent wasted,” Williams said. “One of my goals as superintendent was to get the school system back on sound financial ground and, even though this will take some time, the passage of this tax is a major factor in getting us there.”
Franklin County School Board member Ralton Baker said he was pleased with Tuesday’s results and appreciative of the citizens who voted to keep the tax in place.
“We are facing difficult financial times but our board works well together and our superintendent is conservative with our funds,” Baker said. “This one-cent tax will carry us one step closer in making our financial situation better, which will ultimately make things better for our students and teachers.”