By Brandon Moseley
The St. Clair County Board of Registrars met at the St. Clair County Probate Judge’s offices in Ashville for the counting of the provisional ballots in the St. Clair County property tax referendum. The provisional ballots went in favor of the Moody school district tax hike.
Moody school district voters had narrowly approved a massive 15–mill tax increase on real property on a vote of 923 to 920; but there were eight provisional ballots yet to be considered. Three of those were rejected, five were accepted and all five of those were in favor of raising taxes so the final vote was 928 in favor of higher taxes and 920 against.
“Today we are only here to count the provisional ballots,” said St. Clair County Probate Judge Mike Bowling.
Ed Packard with the Secretary of State’s office was there to oversee the process.
“Every ballot counts,” Packard said. “They go through this process every election, both provisional and absentee.”
“Yes, we do this every election, but usually it does not draw this big of a crowd.," said Bowling.
Deborah Howard is the St. Clair County Election Clerk with the County Voter Registrars.
Howard explained that one must be a registered voter in St. Clair County at the time of the election in order to participate in the election.
Howard said that the three provisional ballots that were rejected at the Moody Civic Center polling place were rejected because the voter was registered in Jefferson County at the time of the Nov. 16 election.
Four of the five Moody Civic Center provisional ballots that were accepted were registered St. Clair County voters, but they were voting at the wrong precinct.
“This one was a little complicated,” Howard said of the fifth accepted provisional ballot. The inspector said that she votes at Moody every election; but Conecuh County had wrongly added her to their voting list.
The Ragland, Ashville, Springville, and Odenville school districts all rejected their proposed tax increases. Pell City narrowly approved a tax increase, but by more than the provisional ballots. The Pell City provisional ballots only increased the margin of victory for the school tax referendum.
Bowling explained that while Moody was the race where the provisional ballots could make a difference, they had to consider the provisional ballots across the county.
The results of the school tax referendum will be certified on Monday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Moody tax increase will not increase money for teachers, books, technology, or add career tech options for students, but rather will be used for brick-and-mortar projects. The Moody school district will sell bonds and use the new revenues to service the bonds. The bonds will be used to build a new high school and a football field with artificial turf. Moody’s existing high school is 20 years old. The bonds will also be used to build a new performing arts center.
The tax increase will apply to everyone in the Moody school district, whether or not they live within the Moody City limits. Property taxes will increase $150 per every $100,000 of valuation on a home and home values are increasing in these inflationary economic conditions. It will also apply to car tags.
Secretary of State John H. Merrill (R) told 1819 News that any registered voter in the Moody school district could request a recount; but they would have to provide a bond paying for the recount.
Bowling said that the deadline for requesting a recount would be within 48 hours of the certification of the vote on Monday.