Petitions circulating to have school ‘Nickel Tax’ question put to public vote

Posted June 26, 2019 at 8:25 am

The recently adopted school district tax rates, which included the added five cents per $100 assessed value, or Nickel Tax is now being challenged. A petition committee is now circulating a petition(s) to challenge the tax levy.

The petition committee presented the affidavit to the Clinton County Clerk’s Office late last Thursday morning, June 20 and a public service announcement, as required by law, is being published in this week’s edition of the Clinton County News.

The committee formed include five individuals who are listed in the public notice, including Donnie Thrasher, Ronnie Bowlin, Lyle Norris, Willie Arms and Ronnie Guffey.

According to the announcement, the petition committee is responsible for circulating the petition to challenge the tax levy, which the Clinton County Board of Education passed unanimously on June 13.

The committee has 45 days from the above passage date to provide the county clerk’s office with the petition, making the deadline July 29.

According to Clinton County Clerk Nathan Collins, a total of 452 verified voter names are required to have the issue put to a vote. That represents 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in the county during the most recent Presidential election held in 2016.

Collins also noted that unlike the wet/dry special election, this petition would be somewhat different as actually there will be 13 different petitions representing each precinct in the county.

Voters who sign the petition must be registered in the particular precinct where the petition states to be verified. For example, a voter registered in the Snow precinct cannot sign a petition from East Albany or it would be counted as invalid.

Collins also noted that when and if the petition were presented with the required amount of signatures, his office would have 30 days to verify the results.

Should the petition be presented and verified by the clerk’s office, the school board would then have the option of “how” an election on the issue would take place.

The county clerk said that if the petition is certified, the school board could either vote to have a “special” election in which the school district would be responsible to pay for, or have it put on the regular general election ballot in November.

Outgoing schools superintendent Charlotte Nasief, school board members and others are in support of the tax levy which includes the Nickel Tax, as the extra five cents per $100 assessed property value is set aside for facility repairs or new construction only and dollars received from the tax could be matched with state funds.

The reason most have advocated for the need for the Nickel Tax is the construction of a new Clinton County High School they hope to see constructed when enough revenue is made available with the aid of the tax.

During a recent public hearing on June 13, the date the tax levy was approved by the board, a public hearing on the issue preceded the board’s work session. However, only a couple of spectators were in attendance for the advertised hearing but no comments, for or against the tax, was made during the hearing.