By Brandon Moseley

There is a special election in St. Clair County Tuesday to consider raising property taxes for public schools.

Two years ago, St. Clair County voters rejected a controversial plan to increase property taxes in a countywide referendum.

In the 2020 election, voters narrowly approved a St. Clair County-only amendment to the Alabama Constitution that would allow each school district to vote to raise their own taxes by a vote of the people, and this vote was for just the precincts zoned to a particular school within St. Clair County. If one community votes down the school tax increase, another could pass it.

Pell City has its city system, as does Leeds, but Moody, Odenville, Ashville, Ragland, Springville, etc., are all in the St. Clair County school system. Under the plan, different precincts are voting on different millage rates. Moody is voting on whether to raise taxes by 15 mills. A no vote in Moody would mean that there would be no tax increase there, but Ashville or Odenville could still pass their tax increases.

St. Clair County is overwhelmingly Republican. This issue has divided conservative activists, who believe in smaller government and lower taxes, from their more establishment-Republican elected leaders.

Like the vote two years ago and the bitter vote against more school taxes in Baldwin County about the same time, this vote is being watched closely by legislators and school boards across the state as they weigh whether to submit their tax increase legislation.

There are a number of capital improvements that the school board has promised voters in this referendum including a new football stadium in Odenville and a new high school and a performing arts center in Moody. The new tax dollars will stay in the school district in which it is levied and will not be spread countywide to the projects or schools with the greatest need.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Voters may only vote at their assigned polling place. There is no same-day voting registration in Alabama, and no electronic voting is allowed. If a voter already has an absentee ballot, they must get it turned in today. Voters must have a valid government-issued photo ID to vote.