By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
With the Cullman City School board preparing to float a bond for a massive renovation project at Cullman High School, the city reaffirmed a long-standing property tax that will help the school system receive funding.
The city ratified the existing levy of 7.5 mill ad valorem school tax in the City of Cullman for the school system. No new tax was approved.
The tax has been in place since 1960, when it was passed by referendum vote with a 581-49 margin.
By ratifying the levy, it confirms the tax will remain for at least the next 30 years — the anticipated length of the city schools’ proposed bond.
“We did this at their request,” city council president Garlan Gudger, Jr. said. “It is not a new tax.”
Though the tax confirmation was needed to prove a stable source of long-term funding, the ad valorem tax will not be used to fund the bond’s debt service. Instead, officials plan to use new revenue generated by a county-wide half-cent sales tax that supports both the county and city school systems.
“To secure bonds, we have to pledge adequate tax revenue of at least 2-3 times our coverage,” city schools CFO Russell Raney explained. “In addition to showing the countywide half-cent sales tax, we also have to show our existing tax revenue.”
The half-cent tax is expected to generate approximately $850,000 per year, which should be enough to pay debt service on the proposed $19 million bond for the high school renovation as well as a handful of other capital needs that will be decided at a later date.
The project will revitalize the auditorium, cafeteria, old gymnasium and the J classroom building. A new L-shaped building will become the centerpiece of the campus, and replace the current offices and the A and B classroom buildings.
The project is expected to drastically increase square footage, razing approximately 53,000-square-feet of usable space and replacing it with 86,000-square feet.
In other business the council:
Approved a request from Randy Makemson of East Cullman Baptist Church for a special event permit to host the Prayer Across Alabama on the sidewalks in front of the Cullman County Courthouse on February 28, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Approved a request from Police Chief Kenny Culpepper to purchase four entry vests, six yokes, six upper arm protections from Law Enforcement Supply in the estimated budgeted cost of $5,400.
Approved a request from Fire Chief Edward Reinhardt to purchase software and printers from Spillman Technologies, Inc. in the estimated budgeted cost of $26,960.
Approved a request from Water & Sewer Superintendent Chris Freeman to competitively bid the budgeted purchase of repair materials for the City of Cullman Water Department.
Approved a request from Water & Sewer Superintendent Chris Freeman to competitively bid the budgeted purchase of repair materials for the City of Cullman Sewer Department.
Approved a request from Water & Sewer Superintendent Chris Freeman to competitively bid the budgeted purchase of repair materials for an industrial project for the City of Cullman.
Forwarded a request from Raymond Young of Mary Carter Paint Store to surplus an alley located on 4th Street SE currently owned by the City of Cullman to the planning commission.
Approved a resolution to apply for matching funds from the State of Alabama and Federal Aviation Administration on the Airport Improvement Project for fiscal year 2013.
Forwarded a resolution to authorize the Cullman County Commission to regulate subdivision development within three miles of the city limits of Cullman.
Approved a resolution to surplus property located on 10th Street NE owned by the City of Cullman.
Approved a resolution to authorize an agreement with the State of Alabama for improvements to Trade Drive.
Approved a second reading of an ordinance to participate in the Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday on February 22nd, 2013 through February 24th, 2013.
Held a first reading of ordinance to confirm and ratify the levy of the 7.5 mill ad valorem school tax in the City of Cullman.
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.