Voters in Spanish Fort and Fairhope showed courage and confidence in the future on Sept. 17 when they turned out to support a tax that will benefit their schools and community for years to come.
Increasing taxes is not an easy choice. Eastern Shore voters, however, realized that the benefits to their children, region and their property values, far outweighed the slight cost.
On a $300,000 home, the increase will be $90 a year, less than a quarter a day. School children, however, will benefit from millions of dollars for academic enhancement programs – early intervention, STEM training, advance placement training, professional development for teachers and many other programs, over the course of the tax.
This money raised in Fairhope and Spanish Fort will stay in those communities. Local commissioners appointed by local officials will work with area principals to decide how the money is to be spent. Officials in Bay Minette and Montgomery also cannot cut funding for Spanish Fort or Fairhope even if more local money is going to schools in those districts.
This support will be a boost for everyone. The students who will benefit from the improvements in their schools will become a better trained and educated workforce for Baldwin County and Alabama.
Better schools will also improve property values for everyone. A study by the National Business for Economic Research that showed for every dollar increase in pupil aide, housing values increased by $20. In Saraland, where voters increased property taxes by 7.5 mills in 2015, property values are now more than 20 percent higher in that district than in neighboring areas.
Residents in other districts in Baldwin County, such as Daphne, Foley, Orange Beach, Elberta, Robertsdale and Bay Minette, will also now have a chance to study how the increase works in Spanish Fort and Fairhope. They will be able to see that improving support for education does pay off for students, teachers, parents and the entire community.
The residents in Fairhope and Spanish Fort made a wise choice on Sept. 17. Because of that courage and wisdom, Baldwin County will be a better place.