School board makes hesitant endorsement of tax package

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2003

The board voted four to one Thursday evening to support a resolution in favor of the tax reform plan. The resolution was drafted by the Alabama Association of School Boards in favor of Riley’s plan, which will be listed as Amendment One on the September 9 ballot.

Board member Barbara Pritchett voted against the motion and had major reservations against the tax plan.

Riley’s plan would limit the "current-use" tax break, which values farms and timberland at below-market rates for tax purposes, to an owner’s first 2,000 acres. There is currently no limit.

The change, although phased in over four years, would make large landowners pay state and local property taxes on the market value of all their holdings in Alabama except 2,000 acres.

McAlpine was concerned about the Alabama Excellence Initiative Fund which would increase in size 10 times throughout the five year span of the tax program. However, "we need more funds for our schools," McAlpine said.

The Excellence Initiative Fund will receive all but $1 million a year of the state money raised by Riley’s plan. One media report has the fund in 2009 collecting an estimated $1.076 billion. Money in the fund is not earmarked for any specific purpose.