Wed December 10, 2003
Escambia County Approves Tax Hike
By Alabama Public Radio
Brewton, AL – Only a third of registered voters turned out yesterday for Escambia County's tax referendum ... but they overwhelmingly approved a 10 mill property tax that will help fund local schools.
With about 65-hundred votes cast. the tax increase was approved by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. It's thought to be the county's first voter approved tax increase for education in nearly 80 years. The last time Escambia County voted to raise property taxes for schools was in 1925 when the millage for education went to seven mills -- the second lowest millage in Alabama next to Wilcox County.
State funding cuts and declining tax revenues forced the Escambia County school system into a financial crisis this year. School officials eliminated a fourth of the central office staff, and also cut support and maintenance staff. Without the tax increase, programs like athletics and band could have been cut, and some area schools could have been closed.
The new tax is projected to generate more than 2-point-8 million dollars each year. 23 percent of that will go to Brewton City Schools. 77 percent goes to Escambia County schools.