City to vote on schools, discuss taxes

BE logo squareIn a race against the calendar to get a new school district in place by 2014, Bartlett aldermen will give the public a chance to voice their opinions during a special called meeting this week.

The aldermen will meet at 7 p.m. at Bartlett City Hall for a public hearing on two ordinances: One to repeal a previously enacted ordinance that created a school system in 2012, and another authorizing the city to form and fund a new school system. The aldermen then will vote after a third and final reading of those ordinances following the public comment session.

It’s necessary to finalize those ordinances by May 24 in order to allow the Shelby County Election Commission time to schedule a referendum on the issue for a July 16 election, city officials have said. The referendum must pass on July 16 so that a school board can be elected in November. Otherwise, the school system will have to wait until at least the 2015-2016 school year, officials have said.

In other business, aldermen and the mayor will discuss the city’s certified tax rate during a 5:30 p.m. work session prior to the special called meeting. Mayor Keith McDonald has asked the aldermen to increase the city’s tax rate to $1.67 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1. However, the Shelby County Assessor of Property’s office certified the rate at $1.65. The city has asked the assessor’s office to review the rate again.

If the county leaves the rate at $1.65, the city will have to hold a public hearing to raise taxes the additional two cents, which comes out to about $200,000 of the proposed $42.1 million general fund budget. Because the session on the tax rate is a workshop, the city will not be making any decisions on the issue Thursday.