There are six Amendments to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 on the ballot Tuesday.
Amendment 1 applies Statewide; Amendments 2 through 6 apply to Shelby, Limestone (City of Madison), Blount, Russell, and Macon (City of Tuskegee) Counties.
I vote NO to Amendment One, because I don’t trust the Alabama legislature to pay back the Alabama Trust Fund and furthermore because borrowing for current expenses from future income is bad policy. Strangely enough, this is the same position held by AEA President Paul Hubbert, who said “The thing that’s a little troubling to me is we may be preventing proration for one year, but we’ll be paying back the debt for six years to get one year…”
However, a couple of politicians I respect are urging a YES vote: Governor Bob Riley ‘wants citizens to support Amendment 1′; and Bradley Byrne, Chancellor of the Community College System, wrote (et al.) that “Your “yes” vote on Nov. 4 is not just a temporary fix. It is an investment in the future of education in Alabama. We urge you to join us in voting “yes” for the Rainy Day Amendment 1 on Nov. 4.”
A friend of mine won’t vote for ‘local Amendments’ because it’s his way of protesting the lack of home rule in Alabama. He figures that if enough people consistently vote NO on local Amendments, maybe the Legislature will eventually support home rule or even a Constitutional Convention.
In past elections, I haven’t voted either way on local Amendments, hoping that people who actually know and care about the Amendment will decide the issue. However, this time I’m going to vote NO to all local Amendments.
Regarding the local Amendments, the only one that is relevant to the Huntsville area is Amendment Three, which would raise ad valorem (property) taxes on the part of Limestone County that is within the City of Madison (equalizes ad valorem tax for all residents of the City of Madison).
Here’s more on Amendment Three from the Madison County Record:
It is really just an equity issue, Dee Fowler, Madison City Schools Superintendent, said.
Fowler said if the referendum passes it would not add any spendable revenue to Madison City Schools because they school system is required to pay 10 mills of the collected tax to the state in order to receive its share of the States Foundation Program…
Athens Mayor Dan Williams wrote:
The governing body of the city of Madison has found an innovative way to place the taxation decisions of Madison County residents upon the citizens of Limestone County in the name of equalization of ad valorem taxes. To ensure the success of the tax-raising measure, the amendment provides that the majority of voters in the State approves, and the majority of the voters of the City of Madison residing in Madison and Limestone Counties fail to approve (NO VOTE), then the amendment would allow the governing body of the City of Madison to call for subsequent elections every twelve months, hereafter, without legislative approval…
To have Madison County voters impose taxes upon Limestone County citizens does not seem to be a good thing. I am sure whatever method either of these outside cities come up with to stick it to the citizens of Limestone County, the others will soon follow with the same thing.
More from Limestone County Probate Judge Mike Davis:
According to Limestone County Probate Judge Mike Davis, the portion of the City of Madison inside Madison County has more than 23,600 registered voters, and the portion of the city inside Limestone County has about 1,350 registered voters.
He said it is unlikely the measure will fail because Limestone voters have little voice.
Davis said he was unaware of the measure before he saw it on the ballot and said many residents may not know of the proposal.
Although it is a statewide amendment, the measure requires a majority vote of Madison registered voters. It could pass statewide but still would not be implemented if it does not pass in Madison, Davis said.
However, if the measure does pass statewide but fails in Madison, members of the Madison City Council would be allowed to call for subsequent elections every 12 months without legislative approval.
“It appears to be an effort to ensure the success of the tax-raising measure,” Davis said.
But if the measure fails to gain a majority of voters statewide, it could not be brought back before voters without legislative approval.
Davis said he does not recall any legislation that addresses taxation in annexed portions of a county, making this amendment groundbreaking.
“This amendment has far-reaching effects,” he said. “If this passes, Huntsville and Decatur will be lining up to do the same thing next time.”