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Jefferson County foots $500K bill for special election

Voters in Jefferson County gave the "ok" to give more than $100 million in property tax collections to 12 school districts throughout Jefferson County. Tuesday's approval extends the taxes until 2045. Those who cared enough to go vote did not have a long ballot or a long line.

The cost of Tuesday's special elections was $500,000. The good news is each of the 12 cities, where people cast a ballot, is not responsible for paying for it. The bill went to the Jefferson County. Since we're talking numbers, another interesting point is one city collected only 127 votes.

Dr. Craig Pouncey guides the curriculum for thousands of students in Jefferson County. The school tax provides him relief as superintendent of the county's school system.

"Had we not had those existing taxes over the last 4-5 years, with the cuts that we've experienced in state funding, it would have created major problems for all school districts in Jefferson County," said Dr. Pouncey.

The county has 22 towns and cities and about a dozen school districts. Voters chose 'yes' when asked, on a ballot, to renew the school tax.

"I'm very appreciative, I think for the one of the first times, we've seen real collaboration in Jefferson County when you have 12 independents school districts, come together to work for a common cause," added Dr. Pouncey.

Up for renewal in 2020, election officials needed to soon get the vote on a ballot. ABC 33/40 wondered why voters could not pick one way or another back in November.

"Our initial thoughts were to try to piggy-back off a general election, so it would not cost the county commission anything extra," added Dr. Pouncey.

Jefferson County's Probate Judge decided it was best to vote Tuesday to avoid a three-page ballot and longer lines during a presidential election.

Tuesday's election generated low voter turnout.

"A lot of people will say they did not know about it and there were no local matters on it," said Gardendale City Clerk Melissa Honeycutt.

A little more than 100 voted in Tarrant, 201 voted in Midfield and 8 percent of registered voters in Gardendale cast a ballot.

Honeycutt believes some voters turn out for only certain elections.

"Our local elections this last time had two districts that ran, so there was not a mayoral election. So, our voter turnout was lower," added Honeycutt.

The approval of the school tax renewal should generate more than $100 million for all school districts in jefferson county.

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