$40 Million Issue Will Go To Voters In November Election (or sooner)
By Susan Salyer
LOUISA, KY. — After the Lawrence County, Ky. Board of Education and Supt. Dr. Rob Fletcher imposed a double nickel (actually 12.5 %) tax on property owners last month, petitions have been circulated, as the law requires, to overturn the board’s decision.
The number of signers required is 10% of those who voted in the most recent election and the number calculated by County Clerk Chris Jobe was 705. But leaders in the petition gathering said Friday they turned in nearly twice that amount with many voters still asking to sign.
The news was not released until after the clerk’s office closed yesterday, so Jobe could not be reached for comment. He will now have thirty days to certify the signatures to see if they are all qualified voters on the correct petition. Jobe required the petitions be signed on a specific petition for their voting precinct.
The near $40 million package adopted by the board includes a $27 million K-2 elementary school to replace Louisa West, a new roof for Louisa Middle School and cafeteria type buildings at Blaine and Fallsburg among other projects. Also 7 & 8th graders from Blaine and Fallsburg would be transported to Louisa Middle School.
The tax, which is in effect now, will be imposed for twenty years at which time it can be renewed.
Petition gatherers say they are not against a new school but they believe voters should have the opportunity to vote after saying current board members, “did not contact any of their constituents” about their vote on the issue which was unanimous.
Fletcher and the BOE attempted a single nickel tax five years ago which was soundly defeated by voters. The petition will force another vote by the public in the Fall 2023 election or in a special election at an earlier date.
A special election would cost the BOE and taxpayers more than $35,000, Jobe said.
Comment from petition committee member Kay Swafford:
“…Today was the last day of collecting signatures. I would like to thank the many volunteers for all the time and work they put into this. The petition is filed. We needed 705 signatures and actually got close to 1400. I am still hearing from people who wanted to sign and apologize that we couldn’t get to everyone.
“… (County Clerk) Chris Jobe will now tell the board that we got the signatures and the petition is filed. He will check these on computer to make sure everything is correct on them. Some may not be accepted. For example, if the person isn’t a registered voter in Lawrence County or if they signed in the wrong precinct. I am confident that we will have enough to get this on the ballot this fall. That is the goal.
“…I would like to encourage everyone who lives in this county, if you are not registered to vote please register. You can do so in Chris Jobe’s office or online at ky.gov.com
Once again we are not against building new grade schools. We need them. We need to work together to find a way to do so without endangering the future of our county.
Make your voices heard this Fall