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Petitioners call for public vote

Nickle Tax Election Coming

County Clerk Eric Haynes confirmed Friday morning that enough valid signatures were submitted on a petition challenging the McCreary County Board of Education’s proposed nickel tax – setting the stage for a possible public referendum on the tax.

Haynes stated Friday morning that his staff verified 721 signatures last week, more than enough to call for a special election, placing before the voters the option to either ratify or recall the School District’s tax.

A committee of five citizens turned in more than 900 petitions signed by local voters earlier this week calling for the tax to be put before the voters.

Haynes said of the 900-plus signatures received, about 150 were not verified due to some incomplete information on the petitions, such as not listing a precinct or polling district. Haynes did add that those signatures would most likely be considered valid if challenged. But, since the number of valid petitions already verified exceeded the amount needed to call for the election, additional challenges would not be necessary.

Only a handful of the petitions were not accepted due to incorrect information.
Since enough signatures were verified, Haynes notified Judge Executive Doug Stephens Friday morning that the conditions for a special election had been met, initiating the next phase of the process.

Judge Stephens will next have to set a date for a special election. By law the election cannot be held until at least 60 days have passed from the verification date, but not less than 150 days.

That puts the window of possible dates between August and October. Since tax bills typically are distributed in September, the goal would be to hold the election prior to the bills being finalized.

Judge Stephens has yet to set a date for the election as he will wait until after the McCreary County Board of Education meets on June 22 to make a final decision.
The Board will most likely discuss the tax and their options at that meeting.
If the Board chooses to allow the vote to be held in a special election, the School District would be responsible for paying for the cost of the vote, which would be approximately $20,000.

If the Board decides to move forward with the vote the election could be held on August 29, which would allow for the new tax to be included on the property tax bills – typically finalized in September. If the election were held after that date, and the tax is approved by voters, the Board would be responsible for the cost of printing supplemental tax bills to reflect the new tax rate.

The Board could choose to rescind the tax, negating the need for a special election.
They could choose to challenge the petitions in court, thus delaying any election, but that course of action is unlikely.

The Board could also petition to delay the election until the Primary elections held next May.

By doing so it would allow the Board to avoid the cost of the election, but it would delay the implementation of the tax until after that date.

The McCreary County Board of Elections met Tuesday to begin preparations for organizing the possible election, but decided to forgo any official planning until the Board of Education’s decision.

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