School board opts to not put Nickel Tax issue on the ballot. . . for now

Posted August 21, 2019 at 1:45 pm

The much discussed and somewhat controversial Nickel Tax which would have been used to gain matching state funds to construct a new Clinton County High School, will not be put to the voters this year as originally expected.

The board earlier this year voted to adopt the additional five cents per $100 assessed value tax, which was subject to a recall vote.

During a state required public hearing on the matter held after the tax issue was passed, no one from the public attended to comment either for or against the tax.

However, in June a petition committee filed an affidavit with the county clerk’s office and began a petition drive opposing the tax. They needed 452 signatures of registered voters to have the tax issue put to voters.

In July, a petition was turned in with almost 900 signatures and enough signatures were certified by the clerk’s office to have the measure put on a ballot.

By law, it was up to the board of education to decide whether or not to have the issue put on a special election ballot or have it put on the November general election ballot. However, the board actually chose a third, nondiscussed option, of taking no action at all, meaning the issue will not be put to a vote–at least this year.

The board had 15 days after the clerk had certified the petition, or until last Friday, August 16, to make a decision.

Last Thursday, the day prior to the deadline and during the board’s regular monthly work session, the issue was on the agenda but the board did not make a motion to have the Nickel Tax proposal put on the ballot, either in a special or regular election.

Board Chairman Kevin Marcum said he told the board on Thursday that if no action was taken–which he agreed with–the issue would die at this point–saying he felt now wasn’t the right time.

When he asked if anyone wanted to make a motion to have the issue put on the November ballot, no motion was made.

Marcum said he felt the school district needed to build unity with the public and left open the probability that the matter would likely come up again simply due to the need for a new high school facility. “There have been years of mistrust,” he added.

Superintendent Dr. Tim Parsons said he felt the district needed to improve its image and the petition to recall the tax proposal had more to do with trust than money, since it would only raise taxes on average citizens by a minimum amount.

Marcum said it was to the point that people in the community were getting aggravated and the school district had only three months (until the next election) to try and educate the public about the tax and what it would mean to the community.

“A lot of people want a new school,” said Marcum, also adding there was a need for the community to have a time to heal from the division the issue has created.

Neither Marcum nor Superintendent Parsons gave a specific time as to when the issue may be brought back up, but agreed they needed to educate people, be transparent and earn the community’s trust.

Dr. Parsons said, “Everything’s not always about adults and what they think, but about what students need. We can’t change what happened yesterday, but try and make up ground as we go.”

Marcum agreed, saying the school system was still trying to make up ground from things that happened 30 to 40 years ago.