Property Taxes, You Decide

By: Ben Stanfield Email
By: Ben Stanfield Email
Dothan residents will decide if property taxes increase.

AP Photo/Dave Martin

DOTHAN - The people of Dothan will decide if "Yes We Can Dothan’s" proposed property tax increase will take effect. The city commission passed the buck, so to speak, on to residents.

They said they learned a lesson with a one cent sales tax increase from a few years back.

The ball is in Dothan’s court

The commission wants to give Dothan a chance to show what they think about property tax increases. Proponents and opponents of the referendum spoke today at the meeting and the commission shared their opinion also.

"People are missing the point,” District one commissioner James Reading said. “This is just to allow the people the right to vote."

That's exactly what the Dothan City Commission did Tuesday. Voting five to one, a referendum passes now allowing Dothan city residents the opportunity to decide if property tax increases should fund the city schools system.

"The number one thing we need to think about before we ever get into this is our children,” school board chairman Harry Wayne Parrish said. “Our children is our most important commodity in this city."

Others in attendance saw it differently tabbing the Dothan City School System as a group that mismanages money already granted to them.

"I would like to have some more money for my office too, but I'm having to live within my budget,” Resident Martha Connor said.

"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still,” Dothan Chamber of Commerce Chairman Jeff Coleman said quoting President Harry Truman. “Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change our community for the better. That's what this is about."

The city commission wanted no part of calling the tax a fly or die. They gave that chance to the citizens of Dothan.

"I expect the people of Dothan to vote on this issue, up or down, as you feel you should," District four commissioner John Craig said.

Melinda McLendon echoed those thoughts.

"I would never, ever deny someone the opportunity to vote,” District six commissioner McLendon said. “Never. It's not in my blood, and it's just not going to happen."

With the motion passing, the city of Dothan will pay the funds necessary for a special election at a later date.

"You can't have a property referendum and have it during a regular election,” Mayor Mike Schmitz said. “The state law says it has to stand on its own."

The referendum was also amended to allow for multiple elections if necessary to raise the property taxes in a gradual process.

"If the people want a full 15 percent, then they will vote on that,” Parrish said. “If they want a four percent raise right now or even no raise at all then that is what they will vote on.”

Dothan decides what the election is for. Dothan decides if it passes.

No timeframe has been set for elections yet. The school board will host public forums in the weeks ahead to discuss how much and when a vote could

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