The Tallassee City Council expressed exasperation with what it called a lack of communication from the city school board on how it plans to use revenue from a special sales tax to upgrade or build facilities.
In fact, councilmember Darryl Wilson suggested at the June 11 council meeting the city redirect revenue from a half-cent sales tax from the board of education to the Tallassee Recreation Department to build new facilities, such as new swimming pool.
“I've been asking where we stand about the half-cent sales tax that we passed for the school to build a new high school,” Wilson said. “I have been told that there is a failure to communicate, not on the city's side.”
Mayor Johnny Hammock said it has been just over four months since the council has had an open line of communication with the BOE.
"We met with them on Feb. 28 and explained the council's position,” Hammock said. “If they want us to finance the money, how will the school board pay that back? We have yet to hear back from them.”
The council passed the half-cent sales tax increase in March 2018 following a scathing report from police chief Matthew Higgins concerning the school's open campus, multiple entry points and parking on King Street. The council also heard fire chief Travis Jones cite multiple fire safety concerns at the high school. The sales tax increase went into effect July 1, 2018.
“Money started dropping in that account since August,” Hammock said.
Since the council created a subcommittee to oversee the construction process, councilmember Bill Godwin said Tallassee citizens have expressed disdain to city officials with the pace of progress at the high school but he said the school board should be “getting pounded” by the public.
“We are doing our due diligence,” he said. “We had our only meeting on Feb. 28 and we were very plain and very consistent on what we said we needed.”
Godwin explained the council is not seeking to micromanage the new high school project but he and councilmembers are dissatisfied with the lack of progress.
“This is June 11 and we still have not received a response from the school board,” Godwin said. “Here we are four months later and we can't get a thing from them. We are not nitpicking, we are waiting for what we asked for.”
Godwin said if the school board does not act, the council will.
“Give them the opportunity to come in with the plans like we have asked,” Godwin said. “One time, very briefly, and then we can move on. It's time to fish or cut bait.”