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School tax will be on 2016 ballot

JACKSON – The Northampton Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve putting a supplemental school tax on the March 15, 2016 ballot.

County Manager Kimberly Turner presented to the board a “Resolution calling for election on the question of whether the county should levy a supplemental tax to fund construction needs of Northampton County Schools.”

Commissioner Joseph Barrett said he is already getting inquires from concerned citizens about the project and what will be on the ballot.

The board voted for the following resolution:

“1. Based in part on the petition submitted to it by the Board of Education, the Board hereby calls for a special election to be held with respect to the question of the (sic) whether a supplemental tax in an amount not to exceed 9.92 cents per one hundred dollars value of property be levied to finance the construction of a centrally-located, consolidated middle-high school for the students of the Northampton County Schools (“NCS”) and to pay other capital outlay construction needs of NCS.

“2. The special election shall be held for the entire area of Northampton County.

“3. The form of the question on the ballot shall be as follows:

“Shall the County levy a supplemental tax on all taxable property in an amount not to exceed 9.92 cents per one hundred dollars in value of property to finance the construction of a centrally-located, consolidated middle-high school for the students of the Northampton County Schools and to pay other capital outlay construction needs of Northampton County Schools?

“[ ] For Local Tax [ ] Against Local Tax.”

Several commissioners expressed concern by the “other capital outlay” part of the ballot initiative, but Turner reassured them that it applies exclusively to the central school project for such things as architect fees and land purchase.

Robert Carter wanted to schedule public hearings to better inform citizens about the project.

Turner said she has already discussed holding at least two public forums involving both boards in January.

Carter also wants to add the total tax rate of county into the ballot initiative. The current tax rate is 92 cents per $100 of valuation. The supplemental tax would raise to rate to $1.192 per $100.

Turner said she would see if the lawyer working with the county would agree to that.

Board Chairwoman Fannie Greene said they want total transparency on the project so every citizen can be fully informed about the project.

During citizen comments, Jack Saunders wanted to know how long the new tax would be levied because a 1 cent tax levied years ago for hydrilla treatment is still on the books.

Turner said it would only as long as the pay-back period and then it would go away.

Saunders also said since the architect got 20 percent for the DHS building, it’s in his interest to offer a very expensive project.

Greene said nothing has come to the board yet and nothing is on the table now. Both the BOE and county commissioners would be looking closely at the costs.

Turner will take the resolution to the Board of Elections Nov. 2 or 3 to be put on the March 15, 2016 ballot.