Mayor Tommy Battle held a news conference Monday afternoon in the City Council Chambers of Huntsville City Hall to discuss a referendum in the coming weeks asking voters to reaffirm 15.5 mills of school property tax collected for Huntsville City Schools.
Battle says the intent is to eliminate three of the school property taxes, currently at 15.5 mills, and authorize a public referendum to reinstate the 15.5 mills in the form of one tax, with new language re-dedicating its collection to schools. He says, to correct the matter, the city is working with Huntsville City Schools and the Madison County Legislative Delegation on a solution.
"The intent of the law is there but we want to guarantee all property owners within the Huntsville City limits our supporting our schools equitably," said Battle.
According to Battle, the current law references property tax collection in "Huntsville, Madison County," which doesn't reflect Huntsville city limits that extend into Limestone and Morgan counties. He says it was first written in 1916 and expanded in the 1960s and 1970s.
"The net sum to the taxpayer is zero - no increase in taxes and no new taxes collected," said Battle. "The net sum to our schools is the assurance they will continue to receive 15.5 mills of support from property owners."
Battle says a recent review of the school tax legislation indicated a need for the city to update its language, ensuring Huntsville property owners are treated equitably. The Huntsville City Council will vote to ask legislature for a special election at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 29. The city says the Council will be taking public comments at this meeting.
Battle was joined Monday by City Council representatives, Huntsville School Board President Beth Wilder and Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Christie Finley.