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School bond and tax elections in Alabama

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School bond and tax elections in Alabama are conducted under two circumstances:
  • To issue new bonding (incur debt for the school district)
  • To collect school taxes at the county level.

Laws affecting school finance

Alabama bond issue law

The Alabama Constitution requires all school districts to place a ballot question in regards to bond issues to voters. The Constitution only protects new bond issues and not the refunding of bonds.[1]

Any County or City Board of Education can pass a resolution calling for a bond issue, which is also called a tax anticipation warrant in Alabama.

Bonds from tax anticipation warrants can be used for paying the costs related to erecting, acquiring, providing, constructing, purchasing, altering, enlarging, improving, repairing and equipping school buildings. This also covers all school playgrounds and buildings for housing and repairing school buses along with the purchasing of school buses.[2]

Tax anticipation bond warrants cannot be of general obligation and must be secured contingent on the bonds being repaid on strictly principal and interest.[3] Tax anticipation warrants cannot have interest higher than twelve percent, paid semi-annually and with a maturity of thirty years.[4]

Before any bonding can be issued, all bonds must be approved by the Alabama State Superintendent of Education. State government approval is necessary to make sure any school district that receives bonding will fully comply with their financial obligations without compromising the state's financial position.[5]

County school tax

The Alabama Constitution requires all school districts to place a ballot question to voters if the county wants to levy a special school tax. The special tax cannot exceed ten cents on each one hundred dollars of taxable property. The tax increase cannot exceed a combined state-county limit of more than one dollar and twenty-five cents on each one hundred dollars of taxable property.[6]

Special school tax elections can be voted on for the following purposes:

  • To not levy a tax
  • To grant an additional time period to extend a tax already levied.
  • To levy an additional tax if a tax that was already approved by the voters was at a rate less than the limit permitted by the Alabama Constitution.
  • Voting to use the same tax approved by voters for different voters as long bond holders are not affected.
  • To levy taxes for the purpose of consolidating or enlarging special tax districts as long bond holders are not affected.[7]

Special mill taxes

Upon the petition of 200 registered voters in the school district to the county commission, the county commission can call for a special one or three mill tax increase election.[8][9] A three mill tax increase election requires the approval of a court judge in order for an election held[10]

Conduct of election, rules, limitations

Authority conducting elections

The respective Judge of Probate in each county of Alabama is responsible for conducting elections.[11]

Election dates

Elections that deal with special school taxes can be held at any time.[12]

Needed majority

A simple majority is required to pass a bond election in Alabama.[1]. A three-fifths (60%) super-majority vote is needed to pass a special school tax referendum[6]

Special elections

All special school and one and three mill taxes are considered to be special elections in which they can be held at any time.[6][8][9]

Wording of measures

Under Alabama law, all ballot questions in regards to bond issues must have the ballot formatted as "For …bond issue," and "Against … bond issue" (the character of the bond to be shown in the blank space), and the voter shall indicate his choice by placing a cross mark next to the responses provided on the ballot.[1][6]

Required notice of bond election

30 days public notice is required for all elections in Alabama.[13] This includes special 3 mill tax elections.[14]

See also

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Alabama Legislature "Constitution of Alabama(Referenced Section, Article XII, Section 222)
  2. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama-AL Bond Issue Law"(Referenced Statute 16-13-70(a), Alabama Code)
  3. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama-AL Bond Issue Law"(Referenced Statute 16-13-70(b-c), Alabama Code)
  4. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama-AL Bond Issue Law"(Referenced Statute 16-13-71(a), Alabama Code)
  5. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama-AL Bond Issue Law"(Referenced Statute 16-13-73, Alabama Code)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Alabama Legislature "Constitution of Alabama(Referenced Section, Article XIV, Section 269)
  7. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama"(Referenced Statute 16-13-108(a)(1-5), Alabama Code)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama"(Referenced Statute 16-13-160, Alabama Code)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama"(Referenced Statute 16-13-180, Alabama Code)
  10. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama"(Referenced Statute 16-13-180, Alabama Code)
  11. Alabama Legislature "Alabama Election Code"(Referenced Section 17-1-3(b), Alabama Code)
  12. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama"(Referenced Statute 16-13-108(a), Alabama Code)
  13. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama"(Referenced Statute 17-9-5, Alabama Code)
  14. Alabama Legislature "Code of Alabama"(Referenced Statute 16-13-183, Alabama Code)