In a surprise move the McCreary County Board of Education did not take the expected move of raising property tax rates for the second year in a row, but instead opted to take a lower rate while raising motor vehicle taxes to make up the additional revenue.
The Board had previously held a public hearing on the possibility of increasing property tax rates to produce four percent additional revenue, which was required by law, but when the Board met in regular session for their September meeting Thursday they actually lowered the property tax rate from 41.9 cents per $100 of value to 41.6 cents.
But, with the acknowledgement that the District needed to increase revenues to go toward purchasing new busses, the Board was asked to consider raising the motor vehicle tax rates.
District Management Consultant Billy Boyd prepared a chart comparing McCreary County School District tax rates with nine other districts in the area.
According to Boyd’s figures McCreary was near the bottom in both property and motor vehicle tax rates.
For property taxes, McCreary’s 41.9 cents per $100 was second-to-last, ahead of only Whitley County, which has a rate of 41.6. The average rate between all 10 districts was 52.29 cents per $100. Three independent districts: Somerset Independent (71), Science Hill (63.3) and Corbin Independent (62.2) had the highest recorded rates.
Motor vehicle tax rates were significantly lower for McCreary when compared to other districts. The local rate of 30 cents per $100 was 16.3 cents lower than the next-closest district (Laurel), and all other districts had rates of over 50 cents, with Corbin Independent posting the highest at 69.3 cents.
Boyd stated the McCreary County School District had not issued a motor vehicle tax increase since 1992, and recommended the Board increase the rate to 46.7 cents, the maximum allowable.
District Finance Officer Michelle King stated every cent increase results in approximately $6,108 in increased revenue, and if they opted for the increase it would bring in about $100,000 in additional funding.
King added it was “one of the most fair taxes” as the burden would be shared by the majority of the citizens, as opposed to just those who owned property.
Not all the Board was behind the recommendation, however.
“I don’t believe it is fair to tax our people to death,” Board member Roxanne Shook stated.
Cash rebutted that the increase would be more palatable for residents as the
“People in the community can see where the money is being spent for the first time in a long time,” he said. “We are looking at more school busses and other things.”
Board Chair Brandon Kidd forwarded the motion to raise the motor vehicle tax, with Rhonda Armijo seconding. The motion passed 3-2, with Shook and Nelda Gilreath voting against.
During the meeting the Board heard updates from principals and department heads, as well as an update on District finances.
The Board also approved a change in drug testing procedures, wherein school nurses would be specially trained to take samples themselves before sending them off for testing, which would save the District about $25 per test.