Chelsea votes ‘no’ to proposed property tax for school system – Shelby County Reporter

Chelsea votes ‘no’ to proposed school system property tax

Posted at 8:13 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12, 2022

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Chief Editor

CHELSEA- Just over a year after it was brought to their attention, residents of the town of Chelsea have decided whether or not to approve a 12.5 million euro property tax in the town to fund a scheme municipal school.

After a day at the polls on Tuesday, July 12, city residents voted no to the proposed mileage increase, which means the property tax will not go up and no school system will be created.

Of the city’s 14,982 residents, official results released at City Hall showed 3,663 residents voted in the election, with 3,196 voting against the proposed tax and 467 voting for the proposed tax. According to the city, 34% of registered voters voted in the election while the city has never had 25% or more in any other election.

With this decision, Chelsea will continue to be part of the Shelby County school system rather than forming its own school system.

The city will continue to pay its $44 million in property taxes to Shelby County, but no additional municipal taxes will be levied in the future, making it one of three municipalities in the county with no local property tax. The others are Indian Springs and Westover.

“As a resident of Chelsea and a grandfather, I’m disappointed the vote went the way it did,” Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer said. “However, the people, my neighbors, have spoken. As Mayor of Chelsea, I will move forward with the decision that was made by our citizens to continue in the Shelby County school system and partner with the Shelby County School Board to make our schools in the Chelsea area the best possible. using the 1 cent sales tax we currently collect for schools.

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks also shared his thoughts, saying he was pleased with the turnout.

“We are delighted that the majority of Chelsea residents have trusted the Shelby County School District to continue to provide excellent educational opportunities for their children,” he said. “While we understand the desire of some Chelsea leaders and residents to create their own neighborhood, we look forward to partnering with them again to ensure our schools in Chelsea are the best they can be. This includes our commitment to providing the best educational resources, hiring quality teachers, staff and administrators, and investing in future capital improvements.

The 12.5million levy was approved for a vote at a meeting of Chelsea City Council on May 3, which set the vote for July 12 to determine the outcome.

The council first announced a study to determine if a school system was feasible a year and a month earlier on June 15, 2021, engaging Criterion K12 Consulting LLC to complete the study relating to the possible formation of a municipal school system. independent for the city.

The study looked at available tax revenue and identified the additional revenue needed to support a new school system in Chelsea.

The city originally planned to add 20 or more mills, but eventually opted for an increase of 12.5 mills, which Criterion said would be enough to start a school system.

Council members Cody Sumners and Casey Morris both presented an alternative to the $12.5 million property tax that could leverage other resources while using the 1-cent sales tax and Shelby County schools.

The proposal came in an April 27 press release that detailed why a property tax was not needed and how they could move forward.

In addition to not requiring additional taxes for Chelsea residents, the proposal calls for the city to use available funds from the current 1-cent school sales tax and current municipal bonds issued in October 2021.

After Tuesday night’s vote, Sumners said he was delighted to step forward and help make Chelsea schools the best they can be.

“I’m glad we can put this behind us and move forward to try and work on the division that’s been created in our community,” Sumners said. “I look forward to partnering with the mayor, the rest of council and the Shelby County School Board to make our schools even better.”

Here are other points that Sumners and Morris listed in their proposal:

  • Leverage the current 1 cent school sales tax on the bond market for upgrades/renovations to current schools within Chelsea city limits. (The current 1-cent sales tax brings in annual revenue equivalent to 10 million property taxes, or about $2.2 million a year. Sales tax proceeds could easily fund bond issues yielding up to to $30 million for school projects.)
  • The schools would still be owned by the Shelby County School Board and would still be upgrading regularly. Any additional funds from Chelsea Town Bonds would be directed towards additional upgrades and renovations to current schools to address concerns about current facility needs as described by citizens and council members.
  • A citizens’ council would be created to work with local school administrators to determine school needs and priorities.
  • The citizen council would then prioritize projects for schools within the city limits of Chelsea.
  • The citizen council would make a presentation/request to the SCBOE to proceed with the agreed projects.
  • SCBOE would be responsible for all aspects of construction.
  • No funds from the Bonds will be transferred to SCBOE until requested for each project, when an invoice is received from SCBOE.
  • This proposal would require no additional tax from the citizens of Chelsea and would allow much needed upgrades/renovations to facilities much faster than the current property tax increase proposal.
  • This would allow all funds to go towards facilities issues, which have been identified as the only issue with the schools.
  • The current property tax proposal is primarily intended to cover administrative costs. This proposal does not duplicate services and allows all funds to go directly to where they are really needed.
  • This proposal would allow the city to help bring the schools up to the expectations of the citizens of Chelsea, so that when the city is in a more financially viable place, it can revisit the issue of schools in the city, and schools will have already received the need for renovations and upgrades.
  • Also, under the mayor’s plan, the current 1-cent sales tax would no longer be available to fund ongoing projects like the Nick Grant program.

Sumners said the hope is that they can move forward with their ideas, but that will ultimately be up to the mayor.

“He has to put things on the agenda, but hopefully that will move forward so we can use that 1-cent sales tax the way it was meant to be used,” Sumners said.

The mayor echoed his sentiment in his statement after, saying that now that the city has spoken, he looks forward to seeing what they can do for schools.

“I look forward to seeing the work of Councilor Casey Morris and Councilor Cody Sumners as they move forward with their alternative plan to improve school facilities in our area,” Picklesimer said.

Jeremy S. McLain