North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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September 18, 2013

The new Gardendale property tax: How much will you pay? Who's affected?

GARDENDALE — The Gardendale City Council’s announcement earlier this month about property taxes has raised numerous questions for residents who will be affected.

The city council on Monday passed a new 5-mill ad valorem, or property tax.

The taxes will come due in October 2014.

In addition, the city council will hold a special election on Nov. 12, where Gardendale voters will either approve or turn down an additional 5 mills added to their property taxes.

Five mills is the most a city can levy for property tax without a referendum, or a vote by the people.

The purpose of the increased property taxes is to help fund a Gardendale school system. The city commissioned a feasibility study this spring to determine whether the city could support its own school system if city leaders decide to separate from the Jefferson County School System.

Dr. Ira W. Harvey of Decision Resources LLC, who performed the study, determined that it is financially feasible for Gardendale to support its own school system.

He said whether the city needs to collect municipal property taxes would depend on what kind of school system the city and the citizens want.

Currently, the city of Gardendale does not levy property taxes on its citizens. However, that does not mean Gardendale homeowners do not pay property taxes.

Currently, homeowners who are not exempt pay 50.1 mills in property taxes every year. Of that amount, 30.1 mills goes to the Jefferson County Board of Education and 20 mills goes to the Jefferson County government.

If Gardendale forms its own school system and pulls out from the Jefferson County system, the 30.1 mills of property tax that Gardendale citizens currently pay would be allocated to the Gardendale city school system rather than the county school system.

“You inherit a substantial tax base from the beginning,” Harvey told the audience in May when he announced the results of his feasibility study.  

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