The Macon County Commission voted unanimously to add a sales tax resolution to the ballot for the November election at its meeting on Aug. 20.

The tax, if approved by the citizens of Macon County, would help to fund the building of a new elementary school.

Macon County Mayor Steve Jones told the commission this would be "one of the most important things you will vote on right now."

Jones informed the commission that the tax could potentially generate between $900,000 and $1 million, though school board member Rebekah Tuttle stated late in the meeting that the sales tax would not entirely cover the cost of the new school.

Jones also said that the alternative to the sales tax increase would be to increase the county's property tax.

"We're gonna have to really work at getting (the sales tax) passed to help fund this," Jones said. "It's one of the things I support, and I hope you'll support this too."

Jones explained the increase as being "50 cents on $100."

"If you go to the store right now and buy $100 worth, right now you pay $9 and a quarter (in taxes)," Jones said. "If you pass this, you go to the store and buy $100, (and) it's going to be $9.75 ... I think that's acceptable for anybody."

Jones conceded that property taxes would likely also be raised to help fund the school as well as fund an upcoming project for the Macon County Jail.

County attorney Guy Holliman explained that the sales tax would die off after the debt on the school was paid.

"The county won't be getting it, no one will get it," Holliman said. "At that time, if there is another issue that comes up, and the county and the cities work together to fund something else, it'll be put for a vote. No one will get anything after (the school is paid off) unless the voters approve it."

District 7 Commissioner Barry King voiced some concern on the ending of the tax.

"When I was campaigning this year, it kept going back to the wheel tax," King said.

Jones added, "We wanted to make sure that it was in there (for the tax to end), because I know the concern that you had, that everyone has. That's probably the biggest question or comment that you hear around here. It's that the wheel tax should've went away. They don't realize that if the wheel tax had went away, we'd have to raise property tax to generate the revenue that's needed. (It's) a pool of money that has to be distributed back out."

King said the voters want clarity in regard to what they're deciding upon.

"When they vote on something, they want to know what they're exactly voting on, not five years down the road it changes one way or the other," King said. "I just want to make it clear that it is going straight to the school and that's all it's going to do, is fund a new school ... and when that is paid off, it's over with."

Macon County Director of Schools Tony Boles also spoke to the commissioners, further affirming that the tax would go directly to the funding of the new school.

"We won't be able to use it for anything other than funding the new school," Boles said. "By the time this year's Kindergarten class is in the second grade, there will be approximately a thousand students in those four grades, grades second to fourth."

Boles said that the new school is planned to hold from 1,200-1,400 students.

"It will be full," Boles said. "By the time this year's Kindergarten class is in the sixth grade, there will be approximately 955 students in grades six, seven, and eight. We're growing."

Boles told the commission that there are 4,173 students in Macon County schools currently.

"We need your support," Boles said. "Talk to your constituents ... support this sales tax referendum."

Tuttle asked that commissioners explain that the sales tax wouldn't pay for the school entirely.

"I want everybody to understand that this is only part of the new school," Tuttle said. "I'm afraid if we get out there and sell it like, 'This will build a new school,' people will be disappointed when they find out later that it's not going to."

Boles also explained that Lafayette Elementary School will become the county's alternative school. He also stated that there were plans to add an adult high school and to make it a transition for students in career development classes.

"Students, when they're 14 years old, they enter a CDC classroom at the high school ... they stay until they're 22, and they're there eight years," Boles said. "We're going to have a transition from that 18 to 22-year-old. We're going to have them at LES."

Boles also told the commission that they hoped to utilize the building for English-language learner students.

"We're going to have them at the school half a day, then bussed to their regular school for inclusion," Boles said.

He said that Fairlane Elementary and Central Elementary would continue to be schools for Kindergarten and first-grade classes.

There are plans to not have any students in portable classrooms.

"They'll all be inside the school," Boles said. "There are eight portables being utilized at Central, and at Fairlane, there are four portables there. We'll be moving those students inside the building."

A potential Red Boiling Springs Elementary School was asked about. Red Boiling Springs School currently consists of Kindergarten through 12th grade.

"Until we can acquire some land at Red Boiling, they're kind of land-locked right now," Boles said. "We're in the process of trying to negotiate to purchase some land there next to it."

He told the commission that the lot currently owned by the school located behind Red Boiling Springs High School, which is currently used as a practice field for the football teams, was not large enough to build "anything attached to the school" on.

"At one point, a few years ago, when this tax resolution was put forth then, there was talk of building a gymnasium there, and that would be the only thing you could build there," Boles said. "Since Macon County High School was built, there have been several million dollars spent at Red Boiling Springs -- on a roof, on eight classrooms, the cafeteria expansion, building the offices and closing the front of the school. There have been several dollars spent."

Boles told the commission that there were five portables at Red Boiling Springs School.

District 1 Commissioner Phillip Snow feels that the sales tax would be "a hard sale" in Red Boiling Springs.

Boles also informed the commission that Macon County Junior High and Macon County High School would be expanding soon, but that those expansions would be paid for entirely by the Macon County Board of Education.

The commission also held two public hearing concerning the Fleming Zoning Resolution and the Carter Zoning Resolution. No one spoke at the hearings, and both rezoning acts were approved by the commission.

The commission also voted to authorize the purchase of land on the west side of the county to place a convenience site. A dumpster will be placed on the land for people to place trash. The land will also be used by the county as a place to store gravel.

The commission also voted to ratify the hiring of Jamie Weekley as the Macon County Animal Control Officer. The county will also be looking at the possibility of adding a part-time position as well as a volunteer group.