On Monday, Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Chris Marczak spoke to Spring Hill leaders during a city meeting on behalf of the Maury County School Board, requesting the city consider earmarking 100% of the additional revenue from the recently adopted sales tax increase to be spent on schools.
Some city leaders held a few reservations towards the request.
Back on March 3, Maury County residents voted in favor of a sales tax increase from 2.25% to 2.75%when combined with the state sales tax rate, brought the effective sales tax rate from 9.25% to 9.75% - the same as Williamson County.
“What I bring to you tonight is a request from the School Board,” Marczak said during the virtual city meeting. “As you know, the sales tax referendum passed, and the School Board was contacted by numerous people that called in to question the way the resolution was worded.”
Marczak explained that in June of 2019, the Maury County Commission drafted the sales tax referendum as a mechanism to help fund Maury County schools, which have seen “historic” budget cuts and threats of teacher layoffs in recent years. The language in the referendum, however, did not include a way to ensure those revenue increases went towards schools in full.
The Maury County School Board’s proposal, Marczak explained, was to see if Spring Hill, along with all other Maury County municipalities, would be willing to give 100% of the increased revenue towards the school district for the purpose of funding “school-related debt service and/or facility improvements and construction” for a period of at least five years.
School projects that would see the funds directed towards first, as previously outlined by Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder, would be Spring Hill High School and McDowell Elementary School.
It’s of note that Spring Hill had participated in a similar arrangement with Williamson County Schools for a period of three years.
The first to respond to Marczak’s request was Alderman Matt Fitterer, who explained that while he understood the great need for additional funding in Maury County Schools, approving such a request would be in direct contrast with what the city had previously communicated to its residents.
Two months before the Maury County Commission drafted its own sales tax referendum, the city of Spring Hill drafted its own, only this one was communicated to the general populace to be a mechanism to help fund infrastructure projects.
“In April of 2019, the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a call for a referendum on our own, and we outlined in that referendum that any proceeds in the sales tax increase would be used towards local infrastructure in Spring Hill,” Fitterer said.
“So I think Spring Hill very clearly communicated to our citizens that the referendum would be used towards infrastructure in Spring Hill, [and] so if Spring Hill voters voted for this, they voted for this knowing that Spring Hill intended to keep our portion of the proceeds to spend on infrastructure. You’re asking us to go back on our word to the voters.”
Both Aldermen Jeff Graves and Vicent Fuqua said that they might consider the request were the five-year period to be reduced to three years, similar to the past arrangement with Williamson County Schools.
As Monday night’s meeting was a non-voting meeting, no decisions were made on the proposal. City leaders are set to vote on whether or not to approve the request on Monday, June 15.