Wednesday, August 12, 2015

School Board will not seek tax rate increase

Tax hearing to be August 27 at 5:30 p.m.
J-E Editor

On Monday night, members of the Webster County School board took their first look at the tax rates for 2015. Although they did not vote on the rates at that meeting, they indicated that for the first time in at least five years they will not seek to raise taxes.

Taxing entities must submit their tax rates to the state by the first of September every year. Their options are to reduce tax rates, increase tax rates or take the compensating rate, keep the same rate or take the compensating rate, which means the actual rate is adjusted in order to bring in the same amount of money as the previous year.

With the ‘compensating rate’, the actual rate can be either higher or lower than the previous year, while the total income remains stable. This change is due mainly on the raise or decline in property values in the county.

Last year the school tax was 48.6 cents per $100 of taxable value of real estate and personal property, netting the school system approximately $3,134,260. The 2016 compensating rate would have dropped the tax rate to 48.2, providing the school with a revenue increase of about $155,000.

However, the board is seeking to keep the exact same tax rate of 48.6 cents per $100. Although the tax rate is the same, the district would see an increase in funds of about $182,400.

“It’s good news that we can take the same rate we were using,” said Board Chairman Jeff Pettit. “I think that is very positive.”

The last two years the district has taken the highest allowable increase, which is four percent. Two years before that an attempt was made to claim the ‘nickel tax’, which would have raised taxes by five cents per $100 if taxable property value.

The nickel taxes was created by state legislators as a way for school districts that meet specific criteria to raise money for their building fund, according to the Kentucky Department of Education. Revenue from a nickle tax may only be used for school facility construction and renovations.

However, the nickle tax can be recalled by the public.
In Webster County’s case there was a conflict with the filing deadline which left the increase tied up in court for several years. Eventually the matter was dropped.

There will be a public hearing on Thursday, August 27 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the current tax rate.

In other business, Webster County’s new Alpha Academy program will be ready to open it’s doors at the end of the month. The grant funded program will allow the creation of early head start for 32 infants and toddlers in the county. Classes will be on the campuses of Providence and Sebree Elementary Schools.

The district is still in need of one lead early head start teacher and 10 teachers associates to staff the program. Those jobs must be filled quickly to have the program staffed by the first day of classes.

Administrators stress that the Alpha Academy program is not just for parents in Providence and Sebree, it is available for everyone in the county.

Superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough introduced the board to Rachel Heath who has been appointed as coordinator of the Captstone Learning Center. The center will introduce Webster County students to programs in robotics, aerospace, culinary arts, drama and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). There will also be ACT prep and school year intervention programs available.

DPP Todd Marshall and Facilities Manager Dennis Parrish told the board that construction on a new football practice field had been completed. The field is awaiting sod before it can begun being prepped for use.

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