McCreary County Clerk Eric Haynes reported that an affidavit to circulate a petition calling for a special election has been filed in his office to decide the fate of the Nickel Tax imposed by the McCreary County Board of Education last month.
Debra Campbell, Harold Campbell, William D. Hale Jr., Billy Wayne Morgan and Vicki Kidd have filed paperwork with the Clerk stating their intent to circulate a petition to recall the tax.
According to Kentucky Revised Statute 132.017: any five qualified voters residing in the area where the tax will be imposed may commence petition proceedings to challenge the levy. Those citizens must file an affidavit stating they constitute the petition committee, and bear the responsibility of circulating and filing of the petition.
To officially challenge the tax and call for a special election at least 10 percent of registered voters in the last Presidential Election must sign the petition.
Once the petition is filed and all signatures verified by the Clerk, the tax will be suspended, pending the special election. The election would be held not less than 35 days and not more than 45 days after the petition was turned in.
According to statute, the Board of Education would be responsible for the cost of the election since it would fall in a year where no Primary or General Election is scheduled to be held.
The Board of Education could also vote to rescind the tax rather than face an election. If they choose to do so, the tax rate, by statute, reverts to the 4-percent rate, but the District would lose out on equalization funding.
The Board of Education officially passed the tax increase last month with the intent of participating in the Facility Support Program, which allows for “equalization” funding from the State, which can only be used for debt service, construction of new facilities or major renovations of school facilities.
By using the support program, which would essentially be a 3-1 match, the McCreary County School District could increase their bonding potential to upwards of $13 million dollars, which in turn, would allow for funding of several much-needed renovations and repairs in various school buildings.
The Board has stated their intent that the funding will be used toward replacing roofs at McCreary Central High School and Pine Knot Primary School, as well as the construction of a new wing at McCreary County Middle School.
Additional projects, such as renovations in schools and the construction of a new bus garage are part of the District’s construction plan, but can only be started once the first three projects are underway.
Haynes said the group filed the intent Monday afternoon, paying the $50 registration fee, paving the way for the petition to be circulated and recognized by the County.
The petition must be returned to the Clerk’s Office within 45 days of the passage of the tax around June 11. At least 590 verified signatures must be on the petition for the special election to be called.