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Limestone tax dispute evolved during 15 years

The scenarios started about 15 years ago that have resulted in a dispute about Limestone County taxes for education from Madison residents in that county. CONTRIBUTED
The scenarios started about 15 years ago that have resulted in a dispute about Limestone County taxes for education from Madison residents in that county. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – In a simplistic comparison, Madison City School’s dispute with Limestone County is similar to an ‘overnight’ success of a musical star.

What seems to happen overnight, in reality, transpires over many years — about 15 years in the case of the tax dispute.

Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools, explained the historical evolution of the situation in his district-wide letter on May 5.

“We have 1,800-plus students whose parents live in Madison City, Limestone County,” Fowler said. Those residents pay a countywide 5.5-mil ad valorem tax and a two-cent sales tax for education. “Madison City Schools receives no money from these taxes.”

“This is a problem that has been going on for quite a long time. In 2001, our city’s mayor, Jan Wells, petitioned Limestone County for the ad valorem tax. In 2002 and 2003, we tried diligently to work with Limestone County and even offered an agreement to end this dispute,” Fowler said.

In 2005, the Alabama Attorney General issued a ruling that the money should go to Madison City Schools. “In 2007, well before James Clemens High School was built in 2012, we received confirmation from the State Department of Education that appropriations of countywide taxes would be received for our Limestone County students,” Fowler said.

In 2008, “then County Commissioner Faye Dyer campaigned against additional school taxes until we could recoup the lost tax dollars from Limestone County,” Fowler said. “Over the past 10 years, we have met on many occasions with the State Department of Education and Limestone County to resolve this issue.”

In February 2014, “the Limestone County and Athens City boards of education sued the Limestone County Revenue Commissioner to prevent him from distributing the taxes, as ordered by the State Superintendent of Education,” Fowler said.

“They also sued Madison City Board of Education … and me,” Fowler said. “As of this writing, they have five attorneys of record working diligently to prevent us from getting our money. The irony is that they are using our money to pay for them.”

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