PVA CHRIS ROSE IS AGAINST TAX RAISE FOR BOE
A citizens petition designed to remove the recent tax hike by the Lawrence County Bd. of education two weeks ago already has nearly enough signatures to force a vote on the ten cents per hundred dollar property tax.
County Clerk Chris Jobe gave the petitioners several rules to go by, said Kay Swafford, a leader in the petition drive. “But everything is being done by the book,” she said.
Lawrence Co. Schools Supt. Dr. Rob Fletcher led a push for the tax which, he says, is needed to build a new Louisa West Elementary school and other major construction projects at Blaine and Fallsburg Elementary Schools. Fletcher tried for and lost an effort to impose a ‘nickel tax’ four years ago.
On motion of Garnett Skaggs and second by Madellene Roberts, the BOE voted 5-0 for the tax.
The election will take place at the regular election in November or the BOE can ask for a vote at any time after the petitions are certified – but it will cost taxpayers about $32,000 Jobe said.
“We believe this deserves a vote by the citizens of Lawrence County, not five people who haven’t asked any voters we know of whether they agree with the construction project dime tax, Cheryl Gowan, another petition leader said.
She said the group has been forbidden access to Wal-Mart, and other large gathering places such as Food City and Dollar General but there have been several local businesses that have welcomed them and the effort is exceeding expectations.
“We are close to 700 signatures,” Ms. Swafford , who is one of the five citizens circulating the petitions, said. “We have petitions at JJ’s Liquidation, Rebel River Outfitters and Backwoods Bargains.”
Louisa Sav-a-Lot has also allowed the petition gatherers to be on their property.
Meanwhile the wording on the tax raise may have been at fault for some discussion on how local public officials are in favor of the “people vote” campaign.
Lawrence County Sheriff Chuck Jackson issued the following statement regarding the petition:
“…As our office is the tax collector for property taxes we will not be making
a comment. We encourage tax payers to do their research on the proposed tax
increase and how it will effect their property tax bills.”
But Lawrence Co. PVA is the direct opposite as a tax official, he says he is obliged to give his opinion.
“…I support the petition for a recall vote because everyone’s voice should be heard concerning a variable tax during difficult economic times, which has already increased from 10.0 cents to 12.4 cents (per $100 of assessed property). Every day my office receives requests for ways to help individuals lower their tax burden. Either they are on a fixed income or have had unforeseen events that affect their ability to pay. Due to these reasons I am not for a double nickel tax. If anyone has a question they may contact me at anytime.”
Other officials such as Judge/Executive Phillip L. Carter have not responded to our questions about whether they favor the tax or not. A Lazer commenter asked that we poll the local officials since they are elected leaders but none of the fiscal court nor the county attorney or Jailer have responded. We hope they will send their comment by the end of this week. Some of them do not have email addresses on file.
“…Cheryl, Johnny, Tommy and I talked with Chris Jobe to clarify the “personal” tax. It is actually going to be a tangible tax, same rate, for all businesses. Sav A Lot have been great to us and haven’t said anything about us being there. Down Home Grill allowed us inside! After sitting for several hours and only getting a few signatures because basically, Louisa is very slow most of the month. Lots of traffic yes but not lots of business for the stores. People have no extra money for anything. There are very few young people over 21 who have a decent paying job. Many have moved out of state or work out of state. Louisa has nothing to offer them.” –Kay Swafford
“We would like to get 1,000 signatures or more so they can’t do anything with the numbers, not saying they would — but it’s best to be safe,” Ms. Swafford said.