OB unveils findings of school system feasibility study

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) – The Orange Beach City Council and other speakers were playing to a nearly full house tonight as they presented the long awaited numbers needed to finance an Orange Beach City School System.

Dr. Ira Harvey spent months drafting a feasibility study detailing the steps needed to establish such a school system.

“This is by far the absolute best plan we could come up with and it works,” Councilman Jeff Boyd said.

The plan is three pronged: it would require a five mill property tax increase equaling about $3.5 million, a one percent lodging tax increase and a half cent sales tax increase, which would put Orange Beach at a 10.5 percent sales tax.

Paul Sousa served as the former interim superintendent of Saraland and Chickasaw during their transition and said the move would bring a sense of unity to Orange Beach.

“It’s basically because the whole community comes behind, it gets behind the school system and everyone pulls together and everyone focuses on that system. And it really helps,” Sousa said.

Residents who spoke with Fox10 News Tuesday night were split on how they felt.

“I’m definitely against this. I don’t think it’s going to give the children a good education. There are too many things they’re going to miss out on: labs and other things like that,” Patsy Wallace said.

“I just sat there and did the math. Our property taxes will be $3000 more a year and I’m absolutely fine with that,” Melanie Martin said. “When you see what it will do to this community as far as my businesses, as far as the value of our property, it’s a no brainer.”

At the end of the day though, it will be up to the people to make the final decision.

“If they vote then we’ll start the procedure and move forward. If they vote no, we can move to the next project and honor and respect their decision and move on,” Mayor Tony Kennon said.

Kennon said a vote is likely to occur in September. To read the study in full, click here. Fox10 News will continue to follow this story and bring you updates as we learn them.

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