Referendum on Renewing Property Tax for Birmingham Schools Possible, Up for Discussion Next Week

Posted

 1476577071 
1556197376
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin

Source: Sam Prickett, BirminghamWatch

bw-logo-color-2

By Sam Prickett

Next week, Birmingham’s election commission will meet to discuss a potential citywide vote to renew a soon-to-expire ad valorem tax that provides Birmingham City Schools with approximately $27 million in yearly revenue. But that proposed election would have even wider ramifications, putting three city council seats — Districts 1, 6 and 7 — up for a vote.

According to a 2013 Municipal Studies Rulemaking Board report, the taxes slated to expire on Sept. 30, 2021, account for 53 percent of the city’s ad valorem property tax revenue — an estimated $27 million per year, Mayor Randall Woodfin told the Birmingham City Council Tuesday.

Woodfin said he had received a letter from Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring about the soon-to-expire taxes and added that the Birmingham Board of Education would likely pass a resolution during its Tuesday night meeting that calls for an election to renew the taxes “to make sure they don’t lose the money that has been in the school system’s coffers for the past 30 years.”

But a citywide election to renew those taxes would also trigger a statute in the state’s Mayor-Council Act that states that appointees to vacated council seats shall hold office until “the next election of any kind in which the voters of the city to which this Act applies are qualified electors.”

This means that the three city councilors appointed to fill vacancies last year will be up for re-election at the same time as the ad valorem tax. Wardine Alexander was appointed to the District 7 seat in October after the sudden resignation of Jay Roberson, while Clinton Woods and Crystal Smitherman were appointed to the District 1 and 6 seats last year after their predecessors, Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson, were elected to the Jefferson County Commission.

Alexander, Woods and Smitherman have all confirmed to BirminghamWatch that they intend to run to keep their seats.

Woodfin told councilors that the city’s election commission — which consists of city attorney Nicole King, Council President Valerie Abbott and Woodfin — will hold an open meeting on Wednesday, May 1, to discuss the practicalities of a potential special election.

“This will be a discussion,” he said. “There will be no vote, but we will discuss process, potential timeline and budget for an ad valorem special election.”

According to state law, the city must provide two months’ notice before an election is held.

The election commission will meet May 1 at 2 p.m. in conference rooms D and E on the third floor of City Hall.

Several Birmingham Special Election Results on Hold Until Wednesday
10-9-2019

Special elections for three Birmingham City Council seats, plus renewals for three ad valorem taxes, will not have results declared until Wednesday morning because of an error in the handling of electronic machine memory cards at three different precincts.

Birmingham Voters Head to Polls Oct. 8 to Pick 3 Council Members, Decide on School Taxes
09-9-2019

Birmingham is one month away from a citywide election that will not only determine the future of funding for city schools but also whether up to one-third of City Council seats change hands.

Birmingham Budget Passes After Debates Over School, Discretionary Funding
07-24-2019

The Birmingham City Council passed Mayor Randall Woodfin’s fiscal 2020 budget. Woodfin said his proposed $451 million budget was “as lean as they come.”

Birmingham School Officials Say Schools Can Work Around Woodfin’s Proposed Budget Cut
07-17-2019

Birmingham school officials say it’s unclear how they’ll make up a proposed $2 million funding gap from the city, but it won’t put a huge burden on the school system.

Jones, Byrne Lead in Fundraising Among Candidates in 2020 US Senate Race
07-16-2019

Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones raised $1.8 million for his election campaign during the past three months, outpacing the still-forming field of candidates for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate elections.