Cleveland schools clarify tax increase impact

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Aallyah Wright, Mississippi Today

Jamie Jacks, Cleveland school board attorney

CLEVELAND – Cleveland School District attorney Jamie Jacks released a statement on Wednesday clarifying the amount of taxes that homeowners would pay when the district exercises its authority to raise taxes for school improvements.

It is estimated that annual individual taxes will not increase more than $11 dollars per $100,000 dollars worth of property, Jacks said in the statement.

“In other words, if you have a one-hundred thousand dollar home, it is estimated you see an $11 annual increase to your taxes,” she said. A May 9 story by Mississippi Today had reported a higher impact on taxpayers.

An attachment Jacks provided Mississippi Today shows that the district was already assessing 1.51 mills under its 3-mill authority. The new levy for improvements approved by the board earlier this month would add between 1.1 mills and 1.3 mills, the document shows.

Jacks added that the district is likely to pay back the money over 12 years, keeping the rate increase close to $11 per $100,000 of assessed value for district taxpayers.

The new property tax increase for the residents of the school district in Bolivar County is expected to raise about $1.8 million, said Jacks. State law allows districts to impose a 3 mill levy for school improvements without voter approval.

However, Jacks noted that if 20 percent of registered voters in the Cleveland School District sign a petition in opposition of the increase, an election will be held.

Sherry Shepard, community member and parent, is making an effort to get a petition filed with 20 percent of the registered voters to force the issue to a vote.

“Even though the District is pursuing a 3 mil note, it can also, at a later date, vote to have a bond election which would raise significantly more funds for either a new building or a major renovation of existing buildings,” said Jacks in the statement.

“The District decided to pursue only the 3 mill note for now to make necessary repairs and improvements to existing buildings.” Jacks’ release provide additional details about the improvements at the new Cleveland Central High School and Cleveland Middle School.

“Some of those improvements include renovating the science lab at the high school, adding a 10 car canopy at the middle school and multiple renovations that are required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA requires an elevator be placed at the high school so that our students and faculty with disabilities can have greater access to the second floor,” the statement said.

“Additionally, the District is addressing all entrances and exits to its middle and high school to ensure they are ADA compliant and all of our students and faculties can navigate the campuses with ease,” Jacks said.