Clinton County Board of Education officially set the tax rates for 2014 at 40 cents and opted to propose to tax watercraft, as defined under a KRS statute, at a combined special call meeting and public hearing held last Thursday, September 26. All board members were present for the brief session, in which only one citizen addressed the board during the public hearing process.
At a previous regular meeting, the board had proposed the new rate, up from 38.4 in 2013 and above the 38.5 compensating rate, and scheduled the mandatory public hearing since they were proposing a tax rate hike.
The only resident who attended the hearing, Walton “Chip” Haddix, addressed the board, but not in direct opposition to the proposed rates.
Haddix indicated he would even favor a nickel tax such as that in Cumberland County that is set aside for construction only, noting the school district was in need of a new high school facility.
Haddix also addressed past years’ issues pertaining to Empowerment Zone money and what he deems as an exorbitant cost in constructing the high school football fieldhouse, saying at one point the architect had turned it into a million dollar project.
Following Haddix’s presentation, Board Member Junior Cecil–seconded by Board ChairwomanPaula Key–made the motion to set the tax levy at 40 cents per $100 on real estate, 40 cents on personal property, 53 cents on motor vehicle, three percent on utilities and propose to tax watercraft as defined by KRS 136.1801. The motion passed on a 4-1 vote with Board Members Goldie Stonecipher and Jeff Sams voting yes and Board Member Kevin Marcum voting no.
The school district hasn’t seen a tax increase in 11 years, and in fact, eight years ago, lowered the rate from 40 cents down to 38.4, with Cecil indicating the action taken by the board was basically putting the rate back to where it was eight years ago.
Finance Director Mike Reeves also gave those present a handout of each tax rate in the state per school district, and noted that even with the 1.5 percent increase Clinton County took this year, the district still had the 14th lowest tax rate among school districts in Kentucky.
Reeves further stated that the majority of school districts in the state allowed four percent increase each year.
In comparison to other area school systems, Cumberland County, at 37.4 cents, is the third lowest taxing district in the state. Wayne County, at 40.6, is ranked 20th; McCreary County at 41.5 is 23rd; Monroe County at 47.8 is 49th; Adair County at 49.9 is 61st; Russell County at 50.6 is 66th; and Metcalfe County, with a rate of 52.2, is 74th.
The property tax increase for the average taxpayer, would raise a tax bill by about $11.50 on property assessed at $70,000, or $15 at property assessed at $100,000.
The increase to 40 cents on real and personal property is expected to generate $64,000 more in revenue, and the proposed tax on watercraft, which Reeves estimated would affect 90 percent of out-of-town individuals, would generate an additional $39,435 annually.
The term four percent increase is difficult for the public to understand, Reeves wrote in an overview of what the new rates would mean, saying the title does not fit the actual increase and is not four percentage points but actually a 4% increase of the compensating revenue the district expects to receive from property tax funds annually.
With no other business on the agenda, the meeting/hearing was adjourned with the next regular meeting of the school board scheduled for Monday, October 14 at 5 p.m. at the Central Office and is open to the general public.