School district finance director issues pertinent information pertaining to ‘Nickel Tax’

Posted July 17, 2019 at 11:31 am

The Clinton County Board of Education and school officials are ramping up their backing of the recently adopted “Nickel Tax” after a petition was recently filed by a petition committee to challenge the tax and have it put to a public vote.

The nickel tax issue was discussed at last Thursday’s meeting of the Clinton County Board of Education, with Finance Director Mike Reeves issuing some basic facts to the board and the public pertaining to what the tax is, listing six primary points.

Reeves reviewed that information with board members and others in attendance last week and the following is the information released:

1. What is the purpose of the Nickel Tax:

The Nickel Tax is a tax which provides funding to school districts for the renovation or construction of buildings/facilities.

2. How will the Nickel Tax be used for Clinton County:

The tax will be used to build a new high school for grades 9-12. The existing building will not be used for students with the exception of the gymnasium which will be renovated during the project.

3. How does the Nickel Tax benefit our school system:

The state provides additional funding for each dollar raised by this tax. At full equalization the state will give Clinton County Schools $1.53 for every $1.00 the tax generates.

For example: If the tax generates $250,000 the state gives the school district $382,500. During a 20-year match the state would provide $7,650,000 to our school district.

4. Can the Nickel Tax be used for anything besides construction/renovation:

NO, the funds are placed in a restricted fund and may not be used for any reason other than construction or renovation.

5. How much will this tax rate raise my property tax during a year:

The tax is approximately 6 cents per $100. The average taxpayer in Clinton County would be affected $2 per month.

6. What happens if this tax is not passed:

Due to the age of (the) Clinton County High School the state will not allow any major renovation to the building/facilities. This will mean no major improvements can be made on heating/cooling, plumbing, the gym including bleachers and floors. The state must approve any major renovation which means it would be out of local control.

During board and spectator discussion, it was noted that some rumors about where the tax dollars would go and how it would be spent is going around, including even talk of “corruption.”

The board and school officials have dismissed those rumors, prompting Reeves to spell out exactly how the tax dollars raised can and/or cannot be used.

Board member Gary Norris said that the state would not fund renovations to the existing high school since the cost of total renovation would be more than 80 percent of what the building itself is actually valued at.

“The general fund cannot afford the renovation costs,” Norris said.

Board member Bobbi Bair also said the public needed to be made aware of the actual use of the Nickel Tax funding.

Reeves also noted that if major renovation costs to the existing building were to occur and the district could not fund repairs, the state could relocate students, noting that would not be a good situation. “How can you argue against the tax if you are really concerned for our kids?” he asked.

(A separate article on the Nickel Tax issue, including an interview with Clinton County Schools Board Chairman Kevin Marcum, can be found on page 1.)