Drivers will pay more for car tags in 2020 after Marshall County Commissioners approved resolution implementing a tax Wednesday.
Money raised through the tax, to be implemented Jan. 1, 2020, will pay for school resource officers at 14 Marshall County School System schools. Currently, the county has six part-time SROs covering all campuses.
The tax will be applied to all motor vehicles registered in Marshall County outside the city limits of Albertville, Arab, Boaz and Guntersville.
The Commission has debated the tag tax issue over the past several months.
At the work session, Chairman James Hutcheson started with comments from the district commissioners. District 1 Commissioner Ronny Shumate stated that he was for the SRO program, but thought that they should make the fee $15. He said that he would be okay with a $12 tax.
District 2 Commissioner Rick Watson stated that he was ready to vote, but he wanted the tax to be $12.
Superintendent Cindy Wigley thanked the Commission for speaking with her again. She believes it was the sixth time that she had spoken with the group.
She started with a few questions that she had been asked when she spoke to each commissioner one on one. One question was about the Education Trust Fund Budget Stabilization Fund. Marshall County School Systems received nearly $1.5 million but the money can only be used for repairs or maintenance of public education facilities in the state, classroom instructional support, insuring facilities, transportation, school security measures and purchase of educational technology and equipment.
According to the members of the school board, this money cannot be used to pay salaries, debt or reoccurring expenses.
Wigley said that if some school system was using their budget for School Resource Officers (SROs), they may not be approved for the fund. Watson stated that he had overheard other school systems were using the money for that purpose.
Marshall County board member Brian Naugher said the budget Marshall County has to work with forces school officials to come up with creative ways to pay for for personnel. At Kate Duncan Smith DAR, for example, one assistant principal is shared by two campuses.
Naugher said that “hardening the schools” is the way to protect the students including hiring SROs and not being a soft target. The schools have taken some measures for safety such as the locking of doors.
District 3 Commissioner David Kelley said he supports SROs, but he still believes there are other means of finding funds for them. He did not want to raise taxes for Marshall County taxpayers. He said they have just had a tax increase, a fire tax and some area cities have raised their tax rate which most Marshall County residents
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have to pay when they use the stores in these cities.
Commissioners again took up the car tag tax later as the first action item on the business meeting agenda.
Watson questioned if the school could use some of the funds they received to buy some of the equipment for the SROs.
Wigley said Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims has a plan to obtain radios, through a grant, but the grant may not come through this year. Wigley said he school system could possibly purchase uniforms or personal protection equipment, but the school could not purchase guns.
Sims said he would like to have the equipment bought by the Sheriff’s Office. Some of the equipment could only be purchased by a law enforcement agency. It would also be easier to track their equipment if it is bought by the sheriff’s office.
Watson was looking for some way of coming up with the equipment without having to take the funds from their general fund. He was wanting to know if the school could give the commission the money for equipment such as a vehicle.
Watson made the motion for the approval of the car tag fee resolution for SROs for Marshall County Schools in the amount of $12. Shumate seconded the motion. All commissioners aside from David Kelley approved the motion.
Attorney Clint Smith read the resolution of the Marshall County Commission regarding motor vehicle tag fees.
The resolution stated that the Marshall County Commission could levy a motor vehicle tag free for all motor vehicles registered in all parts of Marshall County, outside of the city limits of Albertville, Arab, Boaz and Guntersville. The car tag fee is for the purpose of employing, equipping and training Marshall County Sheriff deputies to serve as school resource officers for the Marshall County School system. It states that the fee levied and collected must be deposited into a specially designed fund held by the Commission and to be used only for public school or education purposes. The Commission has been given full discretion to grant categories of motor vehicles which shall be exempt from the motor vehicle tag free.
The commission will collect taxes on motor vehicle registration on all standard tags (PC), God Bless America tags (GB) and specialty/distinctive fee types for motor vehicle registration in the amount in $12. This will take place starting on Jan. 1, 2020.
The exemptions are vehicles registered to those that are 65-years or older and who have a 100 percent disability determination from the Social Security Administration.
This fee will be held in a commission budget line item designated for school resource officers and shall only be used for employing, equipping and training Marshall County Sheriff’s Office deputies to serve as school resource officers for the Marshall County School system.
The first step now that the tag fee has been accepted is for the Marshall County Personnel Board to open up the application process to fill the vacant positions. The Board meets on the second Monday of each month at 4:30 p.m. at the commission chambers of the Guntersville Courthouse, except on holidays. The meeting for the new positions should take place on Sept. 9.
According to Maze, the process should take approximately 75 days. He said once the personnel board has the description and other aspects of the SRO defined, it should take approximately 60 days and then they have to do an internal posting of the job for 7 days and an external posting of the job for 7 days.
After the vote was passed, Shumate excused himself from the meeting by saying that he was headed to the emergency room. Shumate was visibly in pain while he sat through the meeting. It was later confirmed that he did have a kidney stone.