Retired military leaders say voting ‘for’ Montgomery tax referendum crucial for continued success of Maxwell AFB
MONTGOMERY — A group of retired military leaders held a press conference with Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed outside Maxwell Air Force Base on Wednesday, where they urged the citizens of Montgomery County to vote “for” the local property tax referendum in November.
“The Air Force recently announced it would consider the quality of public education options around all Air Force bases when making future basing decisions,” warned Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Trent Edwards, who once served as wing commander of Maxwell AFB during his 30 years in the Air Force.
“Without more options for quality public education, we risk Maxwell and Gunter missions being reduced or relocated to communities that offer military families more options for quality public education,” he offered as evidence for why he was voting for the referendum.
The referendum would increase the tax rates on property owners in Montgomery County, who are the only voters in Alabama that will see the referendum on their ballots.
Montgomery Public Schools would get 100% of the revenue from the proposed tax increase, an estimated $33 million per year.
If approved, the average property owner in the county would see their taxes go up by $12.75 each month, though the increased tax would not go into effect until 2023.
Registered voters will be able to select “For proposed taxation” or “Against proposed taxation” on November 3. Voting straight ticket for one party does not automatically select an option on the referendum; every voter in the county must fill in their choice.
“As a retired general officer and a member of this fine community, I am voting [for proposed taxation],” Edwards, who now works at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, told the public.
Voters can make their choice on the referendum by flipping their ballot onto its back and looking for the column that begins “Montgomery School Tax District.”
Montgomery County currently funds their schools at the lowest rate allowed by the State of Alabama. Many school buildings in the system are dilapidated, and in recent years, the system’s performance grew so dire that the State Department of Education took over.
School systems of similar size, such as Birmingham City or Baldwin County, receive far more local funding than Montgomery Public Schools.
“The amount we invest in our school system is not commensurate with the results we expect,” Mayor Reed, long a proponent of voting “for” the referendum, commented on Wednesday.
The most discussed use for the new funds would be facility improvements. The schools’ maintenance department told the Montgomery Advertiser that 25 of 65 buildings they service need new roofs.
Other priorities the tax increase would help fund are “improved academic curriculum, career and skills training programs, and hiring more high-quality teachers in every classroom,” according to a group advocating for the increase.
Sample Montgomery County ballots for the November 3 general election that include the full language of the referendum can be found here.
The Montgomery Area Association of REALTORS has also endorsed voting “for” the referendum. Along those lines, Montgomery County Commissioner Doug Singleton remarked on Wednesday that better public schools greatly increase the value of a home.
Those living within the town of Pike Road’s school district would not be affected by the proposed increase.
“I am voting [for proposed taxation] to create more options for military family members and raise the investment in quality public education that benefits all our children and supports Maxwell Air Force Base,” concluded Edwards.