February 21, 2013

Hamilton County commissioners approve special referendum

School tax levy on ballot for tentative April 30 vote

February 21, 2013 Joyce Marie Taylor Suwannee Democrat

Jasper — The Hamilton County School Board and the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners have approved a special referendum election tentatively scheduled for April 30 which will ask voters to approve a four year .25 mil tax levy for critical operating needs of the school district.

At the Feb. 11 meeting of the Hamilton County School Board, a recommendation by Superintendent Thomas Moffses to hold a special referendum to continue the .25 mils for critical operating needs was unanimously approved.
 Moffses then took that recommendation before the county commissioners on Tuesday, Feb. 19 where it was also unanimously approved.

“The .25 millage in years past was assessed automatically,” Moffses explained. “Years ago the legislature changed that. It used to be a 2 mil levy. It was a 1.75 levy from the state and a .25 from the district that automatically happened. Later, it was changed that the .25 could still be had, however, it had to go in front of the voters in the district, which it has done.”

The current .25 mil is running out at the end of this year, which is why Moffses is asking for a special election. He stressed that it is not adding a new tax or new millage. It is simply to continue the millage that has been in place for years. As there are no upcoming elections in the timeframe needed, this special referendum will be the only thing on the ballot and the school district is footing the bill.

Moffses said he had expected it would have been on the general election ballot this past November, but it wasn't.

“If we do not proceed in this fashion, you will lose it for the upcoming budget cycle,” Moffses stated.

The .25 millage, he said, equates to roughly $185,000, the equivalent of one step for Hamilton County teachers.

“Not receiving that money will have a major impact on the upcoming budget,” he added.

Moffses recommendation to the school board on Feb. 11 was voted on and passed by all board members. Then on Tuesday, Feb. 19, the county commissioners approved it, as well.
“We are shooting for an April 30 special election,” Moffses said.

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