Oktibbeha County residents trying to force vote on legislative tax scheme.

Public agitation has grown since Oktibbeha County School District filed legal announcements this month stating its intention to take on debt in lieu of construction needs associated with 2015’s state-mandated consolidation with Starkville School District.

If approved, the bonds are expected to at least finance the construction of a grades 6-7 demonstration school at Mississippi State University and could possibly assist the planned joint school district-university pre-kindergarten initiative.

But a tax increase could have a serious impact on county homeowners since only residents within OCSD’s territory — not those who live in Starkville and SSD’s extended area — would shoulder the debt service’s burden.

Earlier this year, Mississippi legislators approved a new consolidation bill that authorized OCSD Conservator Margie Pulley to proceed with acquiring local funds for construction efforts through the use of a reverse referendum.

The bill said Pulley can execute a bond unless 20 percent of qualified, OCSD-residing voters petition to put the issuance up for a countywide vote. Residents have until noon Jan. 13 to file a petition at OCSD’s Main Street headquarters. If they don’t, a hearing in which OCSD begins the bonding process is expected to follow.

Aubrey Ray, a Sturgis resident and former teacher-turned-school superintendent, and Dennis Daniels, who will qualify for next year’s District 3 county supervisor race, began collecting signatures Monday in an effort to stop the process they described as taxation without representation.

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