Petitions challenge Cleveland school district tax proposal

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CLEVELAND – The Cleveland School District Board of Trustees received petitions at a special called meeting Tuesday seeking to force a public referendum on a proposed tax increase to fund school improvements.

Aallyah Wright, Mississippi Today

Community activist Sherry Shepard, left, and Cindy Holtz, business manager for the Cleveland school district, look over 196 pages of petitions.

Cindy Holtz, business manager for the district, and Sherry Shepard, community member and activist, counted 196 pages of petitions, but they did not have a total number of signatures.

“Some of these are completely filled out and some are not,” said Holtz.

Board Attorney Jamie Jacks said the district will have to obtain a list of registered voters in the district from the city clerk and verify that the signatures on the petitions are registered voters.

Jacks said at the board’s regular meeting scheduled on June 12, they can report back on the verification of signatures.

The tax increase will move forward unless 20 percent or more of registered voters living in the school district object to the plan. The district approved a resolution of intent to raise taxes for school improvements during a regular board meeting on May 9.

Once the district approved the resolution, Shepard held community meetings and passed out petitions to try to get a sufficient number of voters to force a referendum.

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.