County schools ask for tax increase

By Staff
Jonathan Willis
Franklin County schools superintendent Gary Williams pleaded with the county commission Monday to implement a one-cent sales tax increase to help the system.
The system is facing a $3.5 million deficit and has used most all of the $3 million line of credit they secured from a local bank earlier this year.
"We've got teachers taking money out of their own pockets to pay for classroom materials and we are ashamed of that," Williams said.
The county school board passed a resolution last week asking the commission to implement a one-cent sales tax increase through June, at which point the item would be put on a referendum and brought before county citizens for a vote.
Williams described the fiscal status of the school system as being in "the worst financial crisis in its history."
"Given the current financial condition, we will not be able to prevent a negative impact on instruction," Williams said.
The system lost $2.2 million due to proration last school year and will lose another $1.4 million this school year. Williams said the system ranks 132 out of 132 in the state when it comes to local funding. He said there are systems in the state that actually receive less tax funding, but coupled with debt, Franklin County is last in the state.
A one-cent sales tax increase is expected to generate $2 million. The Franklin County system would receive 58.04 percent of that total and 41.96 percent would go to the Russellville city schools.
"Our fate is in your hands," Williams told commissioners.
All of the money would be used to pay salaries and benefits.
Williams encouraged commissioners to quickly vote on the increase because the Russellville City Council has also been trying to pass a one-cent increase.
The county commission is set to meet at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 16.
The Russellville City Council has a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. the same day.
If the city and county both implement one-cent increases, county shoppers would see taxes rise from eight cents to 10.
Williams is concerned that county voters would vote to remove the one-cent increase in June if Russellville passes an increase.

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