By Gary Lloyd
The Trussville City Council and Trussville City Board of Education are expected to vote in the next three weeks or so on a joint resolution to draw money from an education trust fund to equip police officers in schools and fund the first year of operations for two new elementary schools.
The city council and board discussed the move at last week’s joint work session.
It will cost about $700,000 to equip new school resource officers and place security cameras in Trussville schools. City Council President Brian Plant said this is a “very fair” request.
City and school officials said it is a good idea to have two school resource officers at each school because if one is sick or on vacation, there will still be one on duty without having to pull an officer of city patrol.
Startup costs for the two new elementary schools, which will be at the historic site in the Cahaba Project and in Magnolia Place, will require a one-time expense of $751,000, Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill said. After the first year of those schools operating, state funding will kick in.
The construction and renovation budget for the school in the Cahaba Project is expected to be $8,997,500, and the construction for the school in Magnolia Place to be $9,133,500. There was also discussion last week of adding a hardened safe room to the Paine campus for $250,000. The timeline discussed was the new schools opening in 2015.
The council and board discussed a seven-millage increase as a possible source of revenue to help fund the construction and operation of the schools. A seven-millage increase would cost someone owning a $100,000 home $5.83 per month; someone owning a $200,000 home $11.66 per month; and someone owning a $300,000 home $17.50 per month.
The cities of Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills have ad valorem taxes at a slightly higher rate than Trussville, which helps support their schools. Trussville’s is at five mills, which produces $1.5 million for the city, Mayor Gene Melton said earlier this year. Trussville residents would have to vote in favor of an increase, should the possibility arise. Residents in 2010 voted down a possible increase that would have gone toward funding for schools and city services.
Melton said the talk was “all hypothetical” based on economic climate, though the consideration of a millage increase could come up in February or March of 2014.
Council and board members said the key is developing a “communication strategy” for helping residents understand the ad valorem possibility. Those funds would go “strictly” to building and operating the two schools, Roberts said.
If a millage increase came up for a vote and was voted down, the city council’s only alternative would be to consider the one penny increase that was designated for capital projects, Melton said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.