Auburn officials urge citizens to vote yes to funding for new school

Auburn officials urge citizens to vote yes to funding for new school

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - In Auburn, a historic vote regarding public education will take place on April 28.

City and school leaders are urging residents to vote yes and dedicate an existing $5 million tax to fund a $78 million debt service at $3.8 million a year.

Those leaders gathered on Monday, April 20 and explained as the fastest growing school system in the state, the lack of space is compromising the quality of education.

The city is running out of options on how to fund the new high school because last year voters said no to raising their property taxes to build it.

Leaders stressed next week's vote does not ask residents to approve a new tax or give more from their pockets.

The $72 million will build a new, 347,000 square foot high school along Samford Road. The remaining $6 million will renovate existing schools.

"How will we pay for it? 1.25 cents of sales tax will be utilized to retire this department along with the $5 million provide we get a positive vote on that," said Auburn Mayor Bill Ham.

The $5 million tax was approved by voters in the 1940s. It's been used build the tennis and soccer centers, renovate Frank Brown Rec Center, and the library.

"This is not a new tax as the mayor said, nobody's taxes are going up if it passes and nobody's taxes are going down if it gets defeated," said Auburn School Board President Matt Clegg.

If the vote passes, the $5 million tax will be dedicated to the new high school for 30 years, making it the largest and longest project the fund has supported.

Mayor Ham says education is the top priority and leaders will find other ways to fund recreation if the vote passes.

What if it doesn't pass?

"The council will have to sit down and do some soul-searching on where you cut out or where you find $3.8 million," said Mayor Ham.

Mayor Ham says the council has not even discussed raising sales tax - something they have the authority to do without a vote of the people - to fund the new high school if the vote doesn't pass.

There has been confusion that if the vote does pass, the new high school will be the second high school in auburn. This is not the case.

The current high school will be used to educate eighth and ninth graders.

The city has discussed moving to a two high school system in the future, but that's not expected to be considered seriously until at least six years down the road.

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