By: Dorothy Sherman
AUBURN, AL - It was a panel comprised of the Auburn City School board president,
superintendent, and the Auburn city mayor, taking questions and
presenting information on the property tax referendum to Auburn Chamber
members. This was the third and final forum.
"We just want people to make an educated decision based on this being the most appropriate way to fund schools long term in the city of Auburn," Matt Clegg, school board president said.
A 17% property tax increase will build a new Auburn High School to help overcrowding issues at the current school. According to officials, Auburn High is averaging three additional students a day since school started back. Auburn city school superintendent, Dr. Karen DeLano explained the need for a new high school and how the schools current funding could not cover expenses. She said the state funds received are allocated, and only 1.3 million dollars can be used for building. Those funds are normally used for building renovations.
"The only money that we can build and do major construction with would be local funding," Dr. DeLano said.
On the other side, some citizens said there is already enough local money, and said they're already paying enough taxes.
"There's a point at which enough is enough. The increase in sales tax two years ago, and then adding this to it," Stephen Benson said.
Benson is an Auburn citizen, property owner, and treasurer of the Alabama 3 PAC, a political action committee. Benson said he is not against Auburn schools and does acknowledge overcrowding as a problem at Auburn High, but feels the school should live within their means instead of asking for money.
"If it means that the city and the city fathers make education priority one, which I think they should, then they direct all extra money to the schools," Benson said.
As for the forums, Benson, who has attended one, said they lack the presentation of both sides. The forums are put on by Auburn City Schools, and have been held by the city, Auburn University, and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. Dr. DeLano said the forums are meant to present the case of the election.
The Auburn Property Tax election is September 24th.
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