Some parents doubt need for property tax increase in Madison

Some parents don't like the idea and others need more information from the Madison City School District to justify voting for a permanent tax increase.

Posted: Oct 3, 2018 10:52 PM
Updated: Oct 4, 2018 10:23 AM

Some parents in Madison are not fans of possibly paying more in property taxes to fund the construction of new schools in the Madison City School District. 

The district wants to build a new elementary and middle school and add on to both high schools to deal with growth. This could cause property taxes to go up $120 a year for every $100,000 your house is worth.

"I'm kind of a personal finance guy. When I hear the 'It's just a little bit of money right now. Couple hundred dollars.' to me that's a lot of money when I need it later on and to me it's not clear if it's needed," said parent Kurt Harris. 

Harris and his family moved to Madison last spring. He understands the need to fund education, but doesn't like adding to his property taxes when he's already paying $600 in property taxes for every $100,000 his house is worth, "They want to raise taxes 21 percent, I think. Property tax. That seems like a lot. It's hard for me to stomach doing that permanently," said Harris.

"As far as we can see forward, if we build schools for between a hundred and two hundred million dollars, the districts gonna need it and we can look and see that the eleven mills that we put on in 1995; not only do we still need those 11 mills, but we need the additional 12 mills," said Superintendent of Madison City Schools Robby Parker.

Carl Lauderdale is a parent who doesn't mind paying more in property taxes to help expand the district. He just has doubts about whether or not the 12 mills the district is requesting from the public will be enough, "It's hard for me to gauge as a tax payer and as a parent. As a tax payer, I don't like being, every four or five years coming back and saying, 'Hey, could you add a new tax? Or give us more money.'" said Lauderdale.

The district told WAAY 31 they and the growth committee went over the numbers several times and determined the 12 mills would be enough. In the mean time, they are still working to convince parents like Harris that this is what is needed.

"Maybe 70% against. I could be persuaded. I just don't have the information I need that proves it's necessary for a permanent tax increase," said Harris.

The proposed property tax increase needs to be approved by the City of Madison and state legislature. Then there would be a special election sometime during the 2019 school year. If approved, the district can borrow the money to build the new schools and pay that back when tax revenue flows in. Construction on new schools could then start sometime in 2020.

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