An additional tag fee for residents in Marshall County that would help fund 14 school resource officers (SROs) could be voted on and approved by the Marshall County Commission on Wednesday, but that would be a bad idea.

The Reporter is an advocate for school safety and supports the improvement and prosperity of all school systems within its coverage area. Thanks to depleted funds and a lack of viable revenue streams, Marshall County Schools is in need of financial assistance to make sure that happens. An additional tag fee on the vehicles owned by Marshall County residents could be the solution, but passing anything right now would only be a bad idea with good intentions.

There are zero concrete plans about the fee, yet thousands of questions and concerns shared by The Reporter and its readers.

First, the commission hasn’t decided how much the increase would even be. Isn’t that important in factoring how to make the “$1 million goal?” And, why $1 million? Is it absolutely necessary to have a $22,000 vehicle for all 14 SROs?

The good thing about the proposed fee: it will fund SROs for all of the county’s schools. What about the rest of the school system’s needs? The commission hasn’t even figured an estimated amount of revenue from the fee. Simple math leads many to believe that it could bring in much more than $1 million if a $25 fee were passed.

Is the money going to be entirely allotted to safety and SROs, or will it help the schools actually function? Will this actually help, or will it just be another band aid to temporarily hold a severed school system together?

Why is Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims going to be put in charge of the money? No disrespect to Sims, but haven’t we learned our lesson in letting sheriffs be in charge of too many funds? How will the spending be monitored and regulated?

When asked, “What is your biggest concern about the additional tag fee proposed for Marshall County residents?” Readers voted:

2.5% – Will another fee be added later?

7.5% – Is this really the best way to help fund the schools?

5.0% – Will there be any exemptions?

12.5% – It doesn’t seem like there’s a concrete plan.

2.5% – The commission and county school board needs to work together more to iron out the details.

55.0% – All the above concerns.

15.0% – I don’t have any concerns. (Poll results were tallied Friday, July 5, at 7:58 a.m.)

One reader, Erica Kilgore, stated on Facebook, “Maybe that it’s being put into place the same time the states increase is happening. Or that the previous sheriff is getting away with squandering thousands of dollars and it’s being down played because ‘it’s an Alabama sheriff tradition.’ That’s a couple of concerns.”

An agenda for the commission’s next work session was released Wednesday. One of the items was: “Discuss approval of car tag fee.”

If the additional tag fee is passed before any concerns are addressed or questions are answered, the commission could find itself in a tough spot with the public – another bad idea if any of them hope to be reelected.

Our View On the Issue is an opinion of The Reporter’s editorial board that includes Publisher Kim Patterson and Managing Editor Taylor Beck.

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