ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) – With the surf, the sun and the sand, Orange Beach is a piece of local paradise. It thrives on tourism and it’s a city where people often retire. Come next month those who live within the city limits will be making a big money decision. Some will be voting to do something that’s never been done before in Baldwin County: create an independent school system for Orange Beach.
“I believe in paying it forward. I believe each generation is responsible to provide for the children of the next generation,” said Sheryl West who favors a school system split.
A “yes” vote for the independent school system would increase property taxes for locals, increase lodging taxes for tourists and increase the sales tax for everyone.
“I have rental property and I don’t want my customers to have to pay more money for rental tax. They already pay 11 percent,” said Kathy Trione who’s against the school system split.
Van Owens said he entered the meeting with the idea of voting against the school system split.
“They want to take a lot of the money from what the tourists bring but a bottom line base can go up or down with a hurricane, an oil spill, whatever and that money has to keep that school operating,” Owens said.
He said the information could change his mind and those in favor of the split hope it does.
Right now there are two proposals for the schools location: near the entrance of the Sportsplex or near The Wharf.
It’s estimated the Orange Beach School System will open with approximately 946 students, which includes students who are currently home schooled.
In order to fun the city school system, residents will vote on September 23 for a 5 mil ad valorem tax increase. That’s about $50 dollars more in property taxes a year for a $100,000 dollar home.