Hamilton County School Referendum

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

The decision to levy a 0.25 percent school district tax on Hamilton County homeowners lies with its voters.

Voting "yes" to this millage rate, means $180,600 toward educating area children.

"Every dime in the budget is critical to the school system," said James Willingham, the attorney for the Hamilton County School system. "The lower revenues get, the less services the school system can provide."

This year state revenues have plummeted to $11.9 million, leaving a $2.6 million gap since 2007, according to Bonnie Penner, with the Hamilton County Business Division.

For homeowners, paying the millage rate amounts to $12.50 a year, said Penner.

That would help fund everything from teacher salaries to preserving the little things.

"How low can we get the air conditioner?" said Willingham. "How high can we set the heat? How much fuel can we allocate to the school buses? How far can all the routes run?"

"It will benefit our children cause we really need the help down here in Hamilton County," said Tammi Jones, who has two children ages 10 and 11 in Hamilton County schools. "Maybe it'll improve our schools."

But if citizens vote against continuing the 0.25 mills for the next two years, officials may be forced to make hard decisions and cut teachers.

"That would be the last place that we would want to cut," said Willingham "But it could mean lights, it could mean supplies. It could mean a lot of things."

But it'll be up to Hamilton County voters to decide whether they can spare the extra money.

Citizens can vote early on this referendum and local and state races at Hamilton County's Board of Elections, which is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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