Auburn to vote on increased property tax for new school - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Auburn to vote on increased property tax for new school

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Auburn residents will vote on a tax increase Tuesday to build a new high school. If passed, property taxes will increase by 17%.

The Auburn City School District is the fastest growing school system in Alabama. The school district says they're running out of classroom space, so they're building a 66-million-dollar school. The vote will decide how that school will be funded.

Auburn City schools Superintendent Dr. Karen DeLano is pushing for the increased property tax.

"I realize that paying additional taxes or paying additional money is not always a popular choice for people," says DeLano. "But I see the 17% as an investment in this community."

Steve Benson, the President of the Business Property Owners Association in Auburn, is against the tax increase. He says it would hurt the city's economic development.

"I think you would tend to push businesses and industrial development away from Auburn and into other areas," says Benson.

Opponents of the referendum want the school to be built with extra revenue from sales tax. DeLano says a property tax is more stable than a sales tax.

"This city council and mayor work very closely and collaboratively with us as a school system, but we don't know who will be our city leaders in 10 years," says DeLano.

Benson says that won't happen, because the city is dedicated to education.

"The money's there, it's at the city. I'd rather see the city give it to the schools, tie it up to where it cannot go away, but live within the means," says Benson.

If the referendum passes, the average homeowner will pay an additional $193.00 a year or $16.00 a month. Dr. Delano says if it does not pass they will still have to build.

"If we have to build classrooms which we will, it will have to come out of local money not state money and we would have to cut some of the things we are doing with local money to try to find additional local funds to build this space," said Delano.

She says these things might include cutting transportation, locally funded textbooks or some staff positions paid for by local funds.

The polls will be open tomorrow from 7 a.m. To 7 p.m. Central time. To find your closest precinct, visit http://www.auburnalabama.org/elections/voting_locations.

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