St. Clair special election

Andala Jones, of Pell City, leaves the Civic Center on Tuesday after voting in the special election. St. Clair County  residents voted on raising property taxes to help provide addition funding to local school systems.

Bob Crisp/The Daily Home

ST. CLAIR COUNTY -- The last time St. Clair County residents voted for an increase in ad valorem taxes was in the 1960s.

Registered voters of St. Clair County had a chance to vote for an increase again Tuesday, but it failed in all areas except Leeds.

Turnout was low as 8,764 of about 59,000 registered voters made their voices heard. That’s a little under 15 percent.

The vote was on proposed ad valorem tax increases for public schools, including Pell City Schools, St. Clair County Schools, Leeds City Schools and Trussville City Schools.

Had the increases passed, they would have meant an additional $4.3 million annually for St. Clair Schools and an additional $2 million annually for Pell City Schools.

Of the 8,656 votes cast in the five-mill county school tax, 5,308 (61 percent) voted no, while 3,348 (39 percent) voted in favor of it.

Of the 7,165 votes cast in the three-mill school district No. 1 (county), 4,438 (62 percent) voted, no while 2,727 (38 percent) voted in favor.

Of the 1,360 votes cast in the three-mill school district No. 2 (Pell City), 739 (54 percent) voted, no while 621 (46 percent) voted in favor.

With three of four precincts in three mill Trussville district counted, 25 people voted, with 16 voting no and 9 voting yes.

The only three-mill school district tax that did pass was in Leeds as 113 people voted, with 68 voting in favor of the tax while 45 voted against it. The Leeds increase will go into effect in October.

St. Clair County Schools Superintendent Jenny Seals said because the proposed increases failed, it’s unlikely that any major building projects will be undertaken in the near future.

“We will continue to try and maintain the current facilities we have,” she said. “Fixing roofs and providing upkeep and current maintenance will likely be the extent of our capital improvements for the next few years. Our current 9,000-plus student population continues to grow, but our funding will remain the same.”

Said Pell City Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Barber, “Living in a democracy means living by the vote of the majority. I was hoping for a different outcome. ...  My hope was not the desire of the majority of St. Clair County voters.”

Barber said he has full confidence in the county’s educators.

“I know they will continue to provide a quality education for our children,” he said. “I want to thank all of our faculty and staff members who work each day to make school such a wonderful experience for our kids. Because of quality educators and parents, our schools consistently perform above the state average. I still feel our children are some of the most blessed anywhere to live in St. Clair County.”

Reach Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes.com.

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