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New high school construction
Photo by Kyle Thornton

Tax could launch next phases at high school

By Leigh Anne Butler

The Elmore County Board of Education is asking for an additional eight mills property tax increase that would benefit the school system. Even though Tallassee is a city system, it would benefit from the proposed tax if passed. 

“There is a push right now for an Elmore County ad valorem increase,” Tallassee City Schools superintendent Brock Nolin explained. “Nine percent of this proposed tax would come directly to Tallassee City Schools. We would receive about $700,000.”

At an Elmore County Commission meeting held earlier this month, Elmore County Schools superintendent, Richard Dennis detailed plans for the extra revenue. There is a public hearing slated for Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. at the Elmore County Courtroom in Wetumpka.  Residents are encouraged to attend to learn more of the proposed tax. If the commission votes to support the proposed tax, the Alabama Legislature would hold a special election sometime in early 2023. 

If passed, Tallassee City Schools would use most of the money received for capital improvements. “1.5 percent can be used for education for things like teacher units. The other has to be used for capital projects like buildings or brick and mortar projects,” Nolin added. “My goal would be to be under one roof as much as possible. (This tax) would enable us to do away with the annex and add an additional 14 classrooms. 

“Because we are landlocked, you have to think about construction in parts. The annex would come down and we’d add additional classrooms to replace the annex. That would be about a $4 to $5 million project. The current cafeteria could be programmed into a cafeteria that is tied onto the main academic building. If you take the space where the cafeteria and old gym are currently located, then you have the space to build an inset gymnasium.

“I’m not for taxes because I believe in small government but at the same time I’m charged with what’s best for the school. Based on the numbers that were recently presented by Richard Dennis, for every $100,000 in assessment you have on a home, it would mean an additional $100 annually. For raw land that is used for grass or farmland, it would mean eight cents per acre.”

The annex (left) could be the site for future expansion

Tallassee City Schools are currently building a new high school that is slated for completion later this year.

“When you do a bond issue, like we’ve done, you have an eight-year call on a bond, which means that you can’t pay it off early or pay extra because the people that bought the bond - the shareholders, have an expectation to earn money off their investment.

“At the eight-year mark, there would be a bond call option where we could actually prepay or get equity. You can then issue a new bond and move onto your next phase of your project. Whether I am the one leading the charge, or whoever comes after me, there is a plan in place to roll forward with this project.”