Alabaster designates one cent sales tax to fund new school and d - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Alabaster designates one cent sales tax to fund new school and debt

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ALABASTER - AL -   Funding is now secured for new schools and campus upgrades and people in Alabaster will pay the tax bill for 30 years.  Is that too long? and what problems could come for the city?

City leaders designated the one cent sales tax increase from 2011 to take on the $120 million debt to pay for school upgrades and a new high school campus. Many think it's a great way to improve schools, others are concerned about a three decade long commitment.  

The city wants to build a new high school between Kent Dairy Road and Thompson Road and improve existing Alabaster schools. In order to pay for it, city leaders are committing the one cent sales tax that went into effect in 2011 - as the source to pay the $120 million debt.  

"So we can do the renovations and build a new high school and some other things we need to do in our city schools," Dr. Wayne Vickers, Alabaster City Schools.

Some parents are happy with the designation if it means improving the classroom experience for their children.

"If we don't have this pledged, someone else could come in and say there is a greater need, but there is no greater need in any community than our students and our school system," Becky Goggins, a grandparent said.

"We have outgrown the schools we are in now and it is so important," Jamia Alexander Williams, a parent said.

"Our school system is growing and needs funds to keep up with the growth," William Phillips, an Alabaster resident said.

But others have concerns.

"What if we had a catastrophe in the city of Alabaster, would you need that one percent elsewhere for fire, rescue?" a woman who spoke before the council said.

The debt and payment plan will be in place for the next 30 years regardless of council or school board action. The bond is also being used to pay existing debt after the separation from Shelby County Schools.

Mayor Marty Handlon supports the school system, but says tying the once cent sales tax to debt is concerning.

"When I think about the unknown, what can happen over 30 years - those kinds of things make me very nervous - the unknown and you tie it to debt and there is no going back," Mayor Handlon said.

 After the 2011 increase, the sales tax now sits at nine percent. The schools are slated to be built .in the next couple years.  
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