A few weeks ago voters in Jackson County received a mail-in ballot. Some may have been unsure exactly what it was. That ballot means so much to the future of education in Jackson County.
Ten years ago Jackson County voters passed a half cent sales tax to make certain improvements to the county’s schools.
Danny Sims, Jackson County Superintendent, says, “By law, the only thing that we can use that money for is new construction, renovations and technology, and you can look around our schools and compare them today to what they were 10 years ago."
Today administrators can point to new computers, building renovations, even entire new schools because of that tax, and they say they want to continue to make these kinds of improvements, but it will be up to the voters to decide if a decades worth of progress will continue, or end.
The half-cent sales tax is about to expire, so the county is asking voters to approve another 10 years.
"We’ve been able to update and keep in stride with the latest technology. That's the reason we want to continue that tax to be able to continue to do those things."
Without the tax Sims says the school district would have to survive on the current two mil ad valorem tax. That forces property owners to foot the entire education bill. The sales tax spreads the responsibility to everyone.
"Even those people who visit or come through our county and spend money here participate in the half cent sales tax. I guess if there was such a thing as a fair tax, this is a fair tax."
This is a mail-in election, the first in Jackson County’s history. All of the ballots have to be turned in to the supervisor of election’s office before 7 o'clock Monday evening on November 7.
So far just over 6,000 have come in.
The half cent tax does not apply to food, gas or medical care. The county only taxes the first $5,000 on high ticket items like cars and boats.