By Crystal McGough
ARGO – Springville Middle School Principal James Talton gave a presentation to the Argo City Council on Monday, July 26, 2021, regarding a proposal for a millage property tax increase to benefit area schools.
This ad valorem tax would provide the Springville School System with funds for capital projects such as a new middle school building, a performing arts center and turf for the existing football field.
“We are having an open meeting for the public this Thursday at 5:30 p.m., at Springville Middle School,” Talton said. “This presentation is one that was mainly created (by), and give credit where is due, Mr. Moore at the high school. He couldn’t be with us tonight. … This is the same presentation we’re going to share on Thursday night and answer questions on Thursday night.
“This presentation wasn’t a sole decision by the administrators at Springville; we had some community members join us to talk about and discuss needs, what was desired for the community. We’ve asked representatives from Argo to join us for this meeting, as well.”
Talton said that the cities of Argo and Springville have both had growth and population increases in the last 10 years. As a result, the Springville School System is seeing an average of 920-930 students at the elementary school, 600 students at the middle school and 720-750 students at the high school.
“A major issue with our schools is limited space, and I would say more so with the elementary school,” he said. “They have no room in that building. … We’ve had to start allowing the elementary school space (at the middle school) just because they are completely out of room.”
Another major issue Talton mentioned was available funding. Based on the latest federal report card, Springville Schools ranks 130 out of 138 in the state for funding per pupil, he said. Meanwhile, Springville ranked on the higher end of the latest state academic report card, with SES receiving a score of 97 and SMS receiving a score of 93.
“With what little funding we have, our kids do a great job,” Talton said.
The state of Alabama requires that every school system have a minimum of 10 mils property tax, with a mil representing 1/10 of one cent. Each additional mil represents a 10-cent increase on each $100 of assessed value of taxable property, or $1 per every $1,000 of assessed value of taxable property.
St. Clair County currently has a property tax of 13.5 mils, which is one of the lowest in the state, Talton said. The school system is proposing to add an additional 15 mils of property tax to cover capital projects. All funds generated by the property tax will be placed into separate capital project accounts for each school zone.
“If this proposal passes (for) the students in the Springville school zone, that money stays in Springville,” Talton said. “This money that is allocated from this property tax can only be used for Springville schools.”
Talton added that every school zone in the county is proposing a similar increase. The 15 mil increase will bring Springville schools to a total of 28.5 mils, which Talton compared to Trussville City Schools currently receiving 43 mils, Shelby County receiving 33 mils and Jefferson County receiving 32 mils.
“Even if we do get the 15 mils, that’s still going to put us at less than a lot of the surrounding areas,” he said.
The main proposal for the ad valorem tax is the addition of a fourth school to Springville. The new school would be a second middle school, or junior high, which would only be for 7th-8th grades. The current middle school would then be used for 5th-6th grades and Springville Elementary would be for K-4th grades. Springville High School would stay as-is.
Other proposals include a Springville Performing Arts Center positioned between the middle and high schools and turfing the schools’ existing football field. The Performing Arts Center would have a 1,000-seat auditorium that would be used for band, choir and theater, as well as open to use by the community.
“All of the residents of Springville schools and attendance zone are eligible for the vote for this ad valorem increase,” Talton said.
This presentation will be given again on Thursday, July 29, 2021, at 5:30 p.m., at Springville Middle School. This meeting will be open to the public.
In other city business, the Argo City Council passed the following:
- Motion to hire part-time city clerk Alyssa Gore at a rate of $14/hour
- Resolution 2021-07-26, Argo Flood Plain Resolution
The next meeting of the Argo City Council will be Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, at the Argo Municipal Complex. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. following a work session at 5 p.m.