THE HUNTER REPORT
SHOULD COMMISSION RAID SCHOOL FACILITIES TAX (AFT) FOR POLITICAL WHIMS?
A Horse of a Different Color!
By: PAT HUNTER
At Monday's (Jan, 13th) 6:00 p.m. meeting, Loudon County Commission will vote to spend Click $900,000 for Administrative Office Renovations- Tech Center Lenoir City - Budget Amendment pdf from the School Facilities Tax (AFT).
Click to see COMMISSION AGENDA & PACKET Click related article IT'S ALL ABOUT PRIORITIES!
The Board of Education (BOE) administrative offices are located at the County Office Building in Loudon, the County seat. The BOE shares office space with County Mayor Estelle Herron and the departments that she supervises e.g. IT, accounting and purchasing departments. The Election Office is also located in the county office building, county government side.
The Loudon County Board of Education requested that the leaky roof of the Tech Center be repaired, however the request for administrative offices did not come from the school board that idea originated from Mayor Estelle Herron. By moving out the Board of Education administrative offices from the county office building, the county mayor could use this office space but her plans have not been fully disclosed at this time.
Why is Commission considering spending School Facilities Tax (AFT) for lofty administrative offices with so many outstanding school needs?
On Sept. 16, 2006, the School Facilities Tax (AFT) $1 per sq. ft. for residential development was approved by Loudon County Commission by half of the current sitting Commissioners David Meers, Earlena Maples, Roy Bledsoe, Don Miller, and Harold Duff. Commissioner Steve Harrelson served on the Loudon County Board of Education in 2006. Commission also approved Commissioner Don Miller's $195.6 Million Education Capital Plan pdf (Click to see).
Doesn't Commission remember the purpose of the School Facilities Tax (AFT)? The intent of the School Facilities Tax (AFT) was to defray the cost of providing school facilities to address overcrowding in schools.
Should Commission raid the School Facilities Tax (AFT) for administrative offices which the Board of Education did not request?
Steekee School students must go outside to enter cafeteria and gym
The School Adequate Facilities (AFT) Tax should be used by the Board of Education on school facilities. Capital Education Projects Dec 31-2012 pdf
School facilities and public buildings are assets that belong to the people and taxpayers which should not fall into disrepair or neglect. But, administrative office renovations is a "Horse of a different color."
Seven years after the passage of this school facilities tax, numerous schools e.g. Loudon High School, Philadelphia, Eaton, North Middle face over-crowding problems that require attention. On a daily basis, Steekee School students (K-5) must leave the school building and go outside into the element to enter the cafeteria and gym (see pictures below). And Commission wants to spend taxpayer money for lofty offices! Please share your concerns with commissioners.
What will be the true cost to renovate the Tech Center, so far the projected cost is closer to $1 Million and counting?
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2006 SCHOOL FACILITIES TAX - COMMISSION & STATE LEGISLATION
Commission Minutes June 26-2006 pdf
Chapter No 953 County Powers Act 2006 - School Facilities Tax - General Assembly (June 21, 2006) pdf
Commission Minutes Sept. 11-2006 (Commission approves School Facilities Tax (1st Reading) pdf
School Facilities Resolution Sept. 11-2006 pdf
Commissioner Don Miller - $195,000 Education Capital Plan Aug. 2006 pdf
CTAS 2012 Counties - School Facilities Tax pdf
2006 SCHOOL FACILITIES TAX - Related News Articles
Development tax debated - News Herald 6-8-2006 Link to story http://www.loudon.xtn.net/story/4117
"This proposed tax could be levied on developers who may have to pay about
for every square foot of new residential construction. Officials said these
funds would be used strictly for local schools and described the tax as an
effort to make developers pay for school upgrades and expansions necessitated by
exploding growth in the county."
"Commissioner Van Shaver requested the adequate facilities tax be added to the agenda to meet the requirement that it be approved by a two-thirds majority at two consecutive meetings of county commission. He said he felt it should be voted on immediately, saving debate for the next commission workshop where it would have to be passed again to be in effect."
"Commissioner David Meers said he was in favor of the tax because of overcrowded schools. "We have to face reality, our schools need help," he said"... The motion failed to get the required two-thirds majority on the commission, but Shaver said it would be on the agenda again at the next county commission workshop."
Arp discusses AFT with school board - News Herald 8-14-2006 Link to story http://www.loudon.xtn.net/story/4215
" ...The proposed tax allows high growth counties such as Loudon County to impose a tax of up to $1 per square foot on any new residential construction in the county. The money raised by this tax could only be used for school construction."
School tax back on track - News Herald 9-14-2006 Link to story http://www.loudon.xtn.net/story/4274
voting for the tax, the commission also approved a capital improvements plan as
required for counties to adopt the tax. Miller had presented the plan at an
earlier meeting of the budget and capital projects committees.
..."According to Miller, the only requirements for the plan was that the county be able to show it is a "high growth" county and the county needs the revenue to provide adequate schools."...
School facility tax OK'd - News Herald 10-5-2006 Link to story http://www.loudon.xtn.net/story/4314
adequate school facilities tax has stirred controversy since it was first
approved by the state as a way for high growth counties to offset the costs of
all the new students who follow rapid residential development. The measure calls
for a $1 per square foot tax on all new residential construction." -
Commissioner Don Miller.
In 2006, the General Assembly enacted the County Powers Relief Act authorizing “counties to levy a privilege tax on persons and entities engaged in the residential development of property.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2902 (2006). The purpose of the tax is “to provide a county with an additional source of funding to defray the cost of providing school facilities to meet the needs of the citizens of the county as a result of population growth.” Id. In order to levy such a tax, the county must have adopted a capital improvement program as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2909, and must meet at least one of the growth criteria set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2907. Initially, the county may levy a tax “at a rate not to exceed one dollar ($1.00) per square foot on residential property.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2908 (2006). The county may not increase the tax more often than every four (4) years, and any single increase in the tax rate may not exceed ten percent (10%). See id. Tax revenues are to “be used exclusively for the purpose of funding capital expenditures for education, including the retirement of bonded indebtedness, the need for which is reasonably related to population growth.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-2911 SOURCE: TENNESSEE ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION (2006).