LOUISA, Ky. — Lawrence County property owners will feel the pinch of inflation and long ignored facilities when a new nickel/dime tax takes effect January 1, according to public release from the Lawrence County Board of Education.
Supt. Dr. Rob Fletcher announced a public forum as a legal ad, a forum which was attended by not a soul outside school personnel. The next meeting of the committee resulted in a plan for school construction and renovation which, Fletcher and the board says is necessary to move the system ahead at a cost of more than $27 million.
The cost would be absorbed by raising the property taxes of all Lawrence County residents and businesses.
Voters in Lawrence County soundly rejected a similar but much smaller proposal by a more than 2-1 vote four years ago but Fletcher said then that it would be back on the ballot “as soon as possible”.
Fletcher says the funding is critical to the school system’s competitiveness in today’s environment where students frequently move or attend private schools.
There can be no tax raise above 4% without allowing the community the opportunity to recall. Any additional nickel is subject to recall if the there is a petition with enough signatures. If they have enough signatures, then it would go to a vote. If they do not have enough signatures, then the additional amount would go on the next tax bill. Currently, we have the lowest tax rate in the 15th region and one of the lower tax rates in the state. In short, there would have to be a petition before it could go to the community for a vote.
100th District State Representative Scott Sharp, who was unopposed on the Nov. ballot representing all of Lawrence County and Catlettsburg and part of Ashland, said in a recent interview with the Lazer that he is working hard to get the wheels rolling on the new school.
“I am hoping that there is no petition this time, but we will cross that bridge when we get there,” Fletcher told TheLevisaLazer.com.
The Lazer has discovered the number of signatures necessary to demand a county-wide vote on the issue which is 705, probably 750 to be safe. The number comes from the state law which requires 10% of the total vote in the last Presidential race. County Clerk Chris Jobe’s office confirmed stats on the state Board of Elections’ website which said the total vote in the Biden-Trump election was 7,050.
TEACHERS RELUCTANTLY FAVOR NEW NICKEL/DIME TAX
LCHS TEACHER ORGANIZATION PRESIDENT SCOTT OSBORN issued a statement for the thelevisalazer.com concerning how local teachers feel about a tax raise, since many of them will pay the extra tax themselves.
“…As for the property tax increase, I personally oppose it; however, with Louisa West in a near-condemned state and most school facilities in desperate need of at least renovation (Blaine and Fallsburg, especially), we need revenue to support building and renovation efforts. The state of Kentucky will only match the funds we raise with a nickel (or higher) tax increase. Without a nickel tax, the state refuses to give us the necessary funds.
I have confronted lawmakers in both parties about this. The answer is either blaming the other party’s fiscal policies (Democrats), or, “you folks keep asking for handouts, but you need to do your fair share to pay for your own facilities” (GOP). The latter argument is hard to beat.
Martin County funded a shiny new high school in part by raising the school property taxes over there. We are in much the same boat.
Either the majority of citizens in Lawrence County need to contact our legislators and try to convince them to assist us without increasing the local tax burden, or we need to increase local tax revenue.
Representative Sharp is the only legislator I have spoken to who voiced support for state funding of our building projects without increasing local taxes; unfortunately, I believe that support has fallen on deaf ears. He is simply outnumbered by naysayers.
Thank you for the opportunity to voice my opinions on this. Most of the teachers I have discussed this with feel similarly. They are opposed to local tax increases, but they don’t see any other way for us to address our aging and ailing school facilities.”
There has been murmurs about forming a petition, which can be done by any registered voter or any organization formed for the purpose and registered at Clerk Chris Jobe’s office.