The City of Opelika will hold a special election on Feb. 28 for citizens to vote on a tax renewal that supports Opelika City Schools.
OCS Superintendent Farrell Seymore said this is not a new tax but is a renewal of a tax that originated in 1948.
This 11-mil tax renewal contributes more than $7 million to the local revenue of OCS, which allows the school system to fund additional counselors, instructional coaches, special education units, teaching units, electives, advanced placement courses, career technical programs, art, band, choir, theater, supplies, facility maintenance, other upgrades and more.
According to the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, this local revenue accounts for more than 40% of the OCS operating fund.
City Attorney Guy Gunter stated in an earlier interview that the citizen’s rate of taxation will not go up if this tax renewal passes. This specific tax must be renewed every 28 years.
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Ali Rauch, CEO of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, said yard signs and stickers that encourage the vote are available for pick up at the Opelika Chamber located on 601 Avenue A and at O Town Ice Cream located at 700 Second Avenue.
“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors at the Opelika Chamber, we really encourage you to vote for this tax renewal so that our schools can continue to be as successful as they have been,” Rauch said.
The Opelika City Council approved a resolution at the meeting on Tuesday night to appoint voting district officers from each ward to hold the election and announced the voting sites for each ward.
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The polling locations are as follows:
Ward 1: Covington Community Center, 213 Carver Avenue.
Ward II: Opelika Learning Center (Old Jeter Primary School), 214 Jeter Street.
Ward III: Opelika Community Center, 1102 Denson Drive.
Ward IV: EAMC—Educational Center, 2027 Pepperell Parkway.
Ward V: Opelika SportsPlex and Aquatics Center, 1001 Andrews Road.
The Opelika City Clerk is currently accepting absentee ballot applications, and citizens can visit the Clerk’s office on the first floor of City Hall at 204 South Seventh Street. Citizens can vote on site, early or pick up an absentee application and return it at a later date.
Other important dates are listed below:
Thursday, Feb. 23, is the last day to apply for absentee ballots. Applications must be received by the City Clerk by 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 27, is the last day for a voter to hand-deliver absentee ballots, which must be delivered by 4:30 p.m.
If an absentee ballot is returned by mail, it must be postmarked by Feb. 27 and received by noon on Feb. 28.
Tuesday, Feb. 28, is the day of the election.
Tuesday, March 7, the City Council will meet in the courtroom of the Municipal Court Building to canvas the election results at 12 p.m.
Voters with questions about the voting process can contact Opelika’s City Clerk at 334-705-5110.
Any other questions related to materials and paraphernalia to support the vote can be directed to the Opelika Chamber at 334-745-4861.
“This election is for all registered and qualified electors of the state who reside within the boundaries of the City of Opelika ONLY and have resided therein for at least thirty (30) days or more immediately preceding the date of such election, and who are qualified to vote in the county precinct which embraces and covers the corporate limits of the City of Opelika in which the elector resides shall be authorized to participate in said election,” said the release from the City.
“We’re asking the people of the City of Opelika to vote yes for a renewal of a tax that’s currently in place. That is what makes a difference in our school systems versus other school systems in keeping them as one of the leading school systems in the state,” Opelika City Council President and Ward 4 Councilman Eddie Smith said in an earlier interview.
Smith said voting to renew this tax also benefits the city as a whole because having a strong school system attracts more families and businesses to the area.
“It’s important that we maintain the status that we think we have achieved with our school system and continue to make it better,” Smith said. “Without the proper funding that would not be possible.”
Smith encourages citizens to vote and to vote yes for the tax renewal on Feb. 28.