Community, Local Politics

Opposition Grows to the Gardendale 5-mill Property Tax

In 2013, two new taxes were approved in Gardendale. The first was a 5-mill ad valorem tax voted on and approved by the Gardendale City Council, Ordinance No. 2013-11, that taxed all property in the City of Gardendale “for public school purposes.”

This tax was not, and was not required to be, voted on by Gardendale voters.

The second tax was voted on by Gardendale voters who approved an additional 5-mill ad valorem tax for public school purposes.

This, effectively, added 10-mills in property taxes for the purposes of funding and maintaining a new Gardendale School System, creating a Gardendale Board of Education, and paying staff related to the effort and operation.

The initiative to break away from the Jefferson County School System and starting a separate Gardendale School System failed under the weight of desegregation orders among other issues.

Gardendale abandoned any plans to battle the courts and begin a new school system in or around 2018.

Four years later and the tax is still being collected.

The 5-mill ad valorem tax voted on by the Gardendale City Council is still being collected, though repurposed into other areas of the city budget. The Gardendale City Council’s authority to continue to tax that 5-mills and repurpose the tax dollars is not an issue.

There is a growing opposition within Gardendale of citizens that believe the second 5-mill ad valorem tax (property tax), should be repealed since it was approved by the voters to fund a new school system that never materialized.

Gardendale citizens recently formed a Facebook page titled “Repeal the 5mil Ad Valorem tax for City of Gardendale Public School System.”

It is a public page, anyone can view it, and was started on January 23rd of this year, and it has already attracted 203 members to the group. You can visit the page here.

With a vote nearing that will ask Gardendale voters to reapprove an 8.8 mill Jefferson County School Tax used to fund the Jefferson County Schools, of which Gardendale schools remain under, some argue that the 5-mill property tax for a school system that does not exist added to an 8.8 mill Jefferson County School tax, will effectively burden the Gardendale taxpayers with 13.8 mills in school tax, instead of only 8.8 mills.

While this is not double taxation, by definition, there is growing opposition to 13.8 mills in combined school tax.

The Gardendale 5-mill tax is still being collected in Gardendale and the 8.8 mill Jefferson County School Tax will be on a ballot for Gardendale voters this year.

The debate on whether both taxes should exist or one should be repealed or voted down is just heating up.