Dr. Frank Costanzo

 Dr. Frank Costanzo 

PELL CITY -- The Board of Education directed interim Superintendent Dr. Frank Costanzo to move forward with helping establish a new tax district for the Pell City school system.

“I have been asked on behalf of the board to give you a directive to begin the process of establishing our proposed tax district(s) and board representation matching our long-standing school attendance zone,” Board President Laurie Henderson told Costanzo during the BOE’s meeting Thursday night. “This should ensure that all taxes collected in the tax districts go to the school in which the applicable child attends.”

There have been past efforts in the past to establish a school tax district. 

In 2010, the city approved an increase in the city’s sales tax from 9 to 10 percent, with a portion of the additional sales tax going to the school system, on the condition that the BOE would work towards setting up a school tax district. 

“Throughout the course of conversations between the Pell City Board of Education, St. Clair County Board of Education and city and county officials, it has always been and currently remains the position of the Pell City Board of Education that our long-standing attendance zone should become our tax district, and the representation be given in the same district,” Henderson said. “We believe this is in the best interest of the Pell City school system.”

Henderson said there is a renewed effort for legislation that could create school tax districts within St. Clair County. 

“For the record, this board has been in favor of a school tax district in the past, now and in the future,” said board member Joe Sawyer. 

State Rep. Jim Hill (R-Moody) told the Pell City school board this past February he would introduce legislation that would allow the Pell City and St. Clair County school systems to set up school tax districts, if approved by St. Clair County voters. 

“This is not establishing a tax, only tax districts,” Hill said at the February school board meeting. 

He said voters would decide whether to set up school tax districts. If tax districts are established, people within those separate school tax districts can then decide whether or not to raise taxes for individual schools/districts through new voting initiatives. 

Hill said there are 144 different school districts in Alabama, so the local school systems are not going to see substantial funding increases in federal or state funds. It will take local efforts to increase funding for education in St. Clair County. 

“I don’t see how we have any other options,” Hill said.