Residents of Tuscaloosa County are voting in a referendum Tuesday to determine whether or not to increase property taxes for the county school system.

In November, reports claimed that the proposed increase would generate an additional $15 million annually for the Tuscaloosa County Schools District (TCSD). 

Homeowners in Tuscaloosa County already pay $10 a year for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. The proposed tax increase would raise that number to $18.

In that instance, an owner of a $100,000 home would pay nearly $75 more per year in property taxes, whereas an owner of a $200,000 home would pay almost $150 more per year.

If the tax increase were passed, the TCSD would begin collecting revenue by the start of its 2024 fiscal year, which begins in October 2023.

TCSD Superintendent Keri Johnson told WVUA that, if passed, the money from the tax increase would allow the school to hire more resource officers, construct a new school building and make improvements to facilities. He encouraged voters to pass the tax increase. 

Alternatively, a county resident called the tax increase a “shady deal,” citing what he calls a lack of transparency from the school system.

According to Patch, it’s been more than 100 years since Tuscaloosa County last voted to raise property taxes. The most recent attempt to raise the property taxes took place in 1996 and failed after the county voted by a two-to-one margin against the increase.

The new proposed tax hike follows a failed effort by Northport to break from the TCSD and form a school district of its own, much like the Tuscaloosa City School System. Earlier this year, former Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon, who during his time in office advocated for a new school district, spoke out against the proposal.

The vote is exclusive to residents of Tuscaloosa County who do not live in Tuscaloosa City and, therefore, are part of another school system.

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