CENTRAL — On Nov. 19, voters will have unusual proposition to consider when then step into voting booth: Vote yes and they can end a tax.
The Central Community School Board voted Monday to ask voters if they want a half-cent sales tax to expire, no later than 2030, when the bonds sold to pay for the construction of the new Central Middle School expire.
“This is an opportunity you may not ever see again,” said School Board member Will Easley.
Easley said when the sales tax was originally approved by Central voters on May 2, 2009, it lacked an expiration date, while the other two propositions on the ballot that day — all three passed — had expiration dates.
Easley, who served on the board then, said the propositions were drafted quickly and the failure to include an expiration date was an oversight.
Easley said the School Board, to reassure voters, quickly passed a resolution at the time unanimously proclaiming they would not collect the tax after the bonds were paid off. But Easley said the move would not prevent a future board from changing its mind and continuing to collect the tax.
Grant Schleuter, a bond attorney with the firm Foley & Judell, said when he presented the idea of actually ending a tax to the members of the state Bond Commission recently they were incredulous.
“They said they’d never seen anything like it before,” he said.
More often, it’s the opposite, that voters are asked to take a tax with an expiration date and make it permanent, Schleuter said.
If the proposition passes, the Central school system will have to go back to the voters in the future to pass taxes for school construction.
If the proposition fails Nov. 19, then Central could use the sales tax for future school construction, but not until at least 2020, Schleuter said.
School Superintendent Michael Faulk said the half-cent sales tax generates about $900,000 a year. He said he supports asking voters to have the tax expire.