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March 11, 2012

Half-cent sales tax vote set for Tuesday

CULLMAN — With the countywide half-cent sales tax vote set for Tuesday, Cullman County Board of Education Superintendent Billy Coleman obviously has a lot on his mind in the days before polls open. The biggest thing? That you please remember to turn over the ballot.

“We’ll be on the back, so everyone remember to flip the page,” Coleman said with a laugh. “We’re on the back of both ballots, and we just want folks to know so they don’t miss it, and can exercise their right to vote.”

After months of campaigning, the school board will finally know one way or the other if voters approve the proposed countywide half-cent sales tax for education.

“We’re really glad to have the opportunity to get the word out on the issue, and really appreciate the people who took the time to listen ... and we have tried our best to be as positive and informative as we could be,” Coleman said. “The meetings we’ve had have been a great way to share, philosophically, the direction we want to go with our system ... But, we’ll have total respect for the process of voting and move forward either way to help our system be the best it can be.”

 With the state budget slashed in recent years, school officials hope the sales tax can provide a new source of revenue to replace the money prorated by the state. The system has been shedding jobs for years, and some students programs have also been lost to the bottom line.

If the tax is approved, the board hopes to not only buoy the general fund — but also put money into technology, art and enrichment for students. Current plans call for 60 percent of the proposed revenue to be used for instruction, 20 percent for separate school projects, and 20 percent for maintenance and facility repairs.

“I think this could enhance the resources and opportunities we can provide our students,” Coleman said. “It’s a great responsibility for us to use every single dollar we get, from any source, to the best of our abilities. I don’t think money necessarily makes a situation better, but it all goes back to making good decisions. More than anything, that is what our focus is on.”

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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