Cary Woods Elementary

A rendering that shows the new Cary Woods Elementary building

Auburn residents will have the opportunity to cast a ballot on Tuesday regarding a bond referendum that would utilize money from the city's Special 5 Mill Tax Fund to pay off debt for two Auburn City Schools facilities projects — both under construction this summer.

The 5 Mill Tax Fund produces about $4.8 million annually and in the past has been used for recreational and city projects, like the construction of the Harris Senior Center and the Gay Street Municipal Parking Deck.

If the referendum is approved by voters, the city would issue $46.09 million in bonds to finance major renovations to Cary Woods Elementary School and J.F. Drake Middle School. The 5 Mill Tax Fund would then pay off the bonds incrementally from 2020 to 2049, according to a sample ballot.

David Dorton, public relations specialist for the city, said residents should note there are no new taxes proposed.

"These are not new taxes," Dorton said. "It's just a long-existing fund that collects existing property tax and can only be used for voter-approved projects. Last time it was used for school projects, and this time it also is being used for school projects. Essentially, the council has at some level committed to using it for school projects at least for however long that's needed."

In 2014, the Auburn City Council did unanimously support the 5 Mill Tax Fund to be used for school projects moving forward, and in 2015, Auburn voters approved a referendum for the tax fund to finance the construction of the new Auburn High School.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There are multiple ways to find your polling place for this municipal election. Voters can visit auburnalabama.org, scroll to the bottom of the page and type in their address to learn their polling location, or they can visit alabamavotes.gov to look up their voter registration information, which lists their polling place.

Dorton suggested residents double-check their polling place at the state website since it is tied to voter registration information.

"For some people, your voting place for county, state and federal elections is different than your voting place for municipal elections," Dorton said. "This is a municipal election, so in this case, if you haven't moved, your voting location would be the same as last August and October, when we had our council elections."

For more about the election and to see a ward map, visit auburnalabama.org/elections.

Those voting absentee must apply for a ballot by 5 p.m. today at City Hall. Those who have already applied to vote absentee may turn in their ballots by 5 p.m. on Monday. If mailing the ballot, city staff must receive it by noon on election day.

"We will handle that appropriately to make sure we get everything that is received by noon," Dorton said, adding that so far only about 20 absentee ballots have been received.

Daniel Chesser, public relations specialist for Auburn City Schools, encouraged residents to support the school system Tuesday by voting in favor of the referendum.

"This fund has served the Auburn community for more than 80 years by financing voter-approved projects, and it is important to ACS that the community continues to support and value the education of our young people," he said.

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