Montgomery officials tying tax bid to military future
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Officials supporting a move to raise property taxes in a bid to improve Montgomery's troubled public schools say defeat could endanger the future of its military facilities, a leading employer in central Alabama.
A recent military report pointed out the area's lack of support for public education, news outlets reported. Failing to fix the system's problems would put Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base on shaky ground partly because service members don't want to move their families to the area, tax supporters say.
“Without more options for quality public education, we risk Maxwell and Gunter missions being reduced or relocated to communities that offer quality public education,” retried Brig. Gen. Trent Edwards told a news conference Wednesday.
That potential loss would affect almost 13,000 jobs attached to the base plus its annual economic impact of $2.6 billion, officials said.
City and county leaders attended the gathering in support of an initiative on the November ballot to raise county property taxes above the legally mandated state minimum. The proposal, which would more than double the current rate to 22 mills, would bring in an additional $33 million annually for education and hike the annual tax bill for an median-priced home by almost $13.
Mayor Steven Reed said the hike was needed to both secure the future of the military installation and create new academic opportunities for students.
“Education changes outcomes, it changes families, it changes generations, it changes communities,” said Reed. “We can’t get that type of educational product without investing in it at the same level. We have to do that by voting for this initiative on November 3.”
School officials have said the additional money would be used to hire more teachers, repair poorly maintained school buildings and improve security.
The state intervened in Montgomery school system three years ago trying to make improvements.