City of Gadsden and schools identify funds for summer programs

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After reviewing all the funding sources the City of Gadsden pays to Gadsden City Schools, Mayor Craig Ford and Superintendent Keith Blackwell announced they identified existing revenue that can support summer education programs in the community this year. Ford and Blackwell worked with their finance departments, which determined that the city’s property tax revenue for education had increased by approximately $65,000 over the previous year.

Some property taxes paid to the City of Gadsden are dedicated to specific recipients such as Gadsden City Schools and the Gadsden Fire Department. At the end of each year, the city’s finance department calculates its collections and certifies the percentage-based ‘overage’ revenue due to those recipients.

This year, the calculation resulted in $64,643 more than the school system received last year. Earlier this month, Assistant Superintendent Sharon Maness addressed the city council, seeking financial assistance from the municipality for the school system’s proposed community programs.

During the same city council meeting, the council unanimously approved a recommendation from Ford to provide residents of Gadsden an additional way to voluntarily support Gadsden City Schools through their quarterly garbage bill, projected to generate more than $40,000 in new revenue for the school system each year.

This is modeled after the Gadsden Water Works ‘change for children’ program that allows customers to support Gadsden City Schools through their monthly water bill.

The City of Gadsden included $550,000 for various school system programs and expenses from the city’s general fund budget this year, annually pays a large portion of the debt from the construction of Gadsden City High School, and the majority of the mayor and council’s discretionary funds are directed to the Gadsden City Board of Education programs.

Still, after hearing about the school system’s plans, Ford committed to whatever he could do to help the school system find the approximate $50,000 proposed by Maness.

“I appreciate everyone jumping into action to identify the money we needed to keep these programs going,” Blackwell said. “We are looking forward to a productive summer of enriching programs, and I want to thank Sharon Maness for making that a priority. We’re thankful for our partnership with the City of Gadsden and look forward to growing together.”

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