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Nickel tax vote August 8th

The McCreary County Board of  Education is willing to risk nearly  $30,000 for the chance of gaining  about $1 million per year over the next decade.

Photo by Greg Bird
The McCreary County Board of Education met last Thursday night to discuss and vote on moving forward with a public vote on the proposed nickel tax..

With a unanimous vote Thursday night the Board elected to go forward with a special election to decide the fate of their proposed nickel tax.

“I motion we continue as we started,” Board Chairman Kidd said as he made a motion to approve the vote. “Let it fall where it falls.”

Board member Dustin Stephens seconded the motion, and the vote was held with all five members giving their approval.

That election will be held on August 8 after discussions between the Board of Elections and Board of Education reached an agreement on the date and the wording of the ballot.

The initial date requested by the School District called for the vote to be held on July 18, which would place a large burden on County Clerk Eric Haynes to organize the election.

Statute requires the special election to be held between 35 and 45 days of the certification of the petition calling for a recall election. That certification occurred on June 9.

But, at the time of the certification Haynes and the McCreary County Board of Elections opted to wait until hearing the Board of Education’s decision on whether or not to call for the special election. Since the Board of Education would be required to pay for the election, the election board did not believe it was wise to spend taxpayer money on the election in the case it would not be held.

It was nearly two weeks later, on June 22, before the Board of Education met to confirm that they would, indeed, ask for the election to be held.

The new agreement between the Boards waives the statutory requirement and allows for the election to be held on the mutually agreed upon date.

That timeline gave Haynes less than a month to organize the county-wide vote. In that time Haynes and his Board would have to check and certify all voting machines to ensure they are functioning properly, order election materials, as well as put together and train a staff to operate the polls on election day.

Haynes confirmed Tuesday that the Board of Education has put up a bond of $28,500 to cover the cost of the election and has submitted the wording of the question to be put on the ballot:

“Are you for or against the McCreary county Board of Education’s levy of an equivalent (state matching funds)  “nickel tax” to raise funds that would be dedicated strictly to major renovations including replacing the roof at Pine Knot Elementary and McCreary

Central, new construction and debt service?”

With those issues settled preparations can begin to hold the election in August, prior to the start of school and before tax bills are finalized and sent out.

Absentee and in –house voting is scheduled to begin on July 24.

During the discussion leading up to the vote Thursday night, Superintendent Mike Cash asked the Board to approve the election, noting the money that could be raised by the increase will directly benefit the students by repairing potentially harmful leaks in the roofs at the high school and Building 1 at Pine Knot Elementary.

Cash noted a recent examination of the roof at the high school revealed 360 blisters in the older portion, which are in need of repair. He also pointed out that the roof at the old Pine Knot Primary School was built in the early 1980’s, more than 30 years ago.

Cash stated that conditions at McCreary Middle and Pine Knot Intermediate had improved and attendance of both students and staff increased since repairs to their respective roofs were completed last year.

The Superintendent compared the need to the repairs to the issues involving the closure of the McCreary County Detention Center.

“They didn’t do maintenance, and didn’t keep it up. Now it’s closed,” he said. Cash added he would hate for a similar thing to happen at one of the schools when the opportunity to prevent it was available.

Funding raised by the tax would also go toward the addition of a new wing at McCreary Middle, along with the roofs, three things identified by an engineer as architect and the School Facility Committee as of vital needs to the District.

The recommended work at the three schools are listed as top priority in the District’s 5-year facility plan, and must be completed before any of the identified lower-priority items are considered.

Cash noted the other items on the list are noting more than a “wish list” and unlikely to be addressed in the near future, and should not effect their decision.

In other Board 

actions Thursday:

The Board renegotiated a bid for a planned upgrade to the high school track facility.

The District had already solicited for bids on the project, but only one company responded – Hinkle Contracting.

After District officials met with representatives of the company they were able to negotiate a revised contract with the firm, making minor changes to the proposal, which will save the District nearly $50,000 on the project. The original bid estimated a cost of just over $377,000 to complete.

The project will entail resurfacing the track with a specialized rubber compound, as well as adding areas for field events, such as long jump and discus.

The renovations will bring the track up to competition standards, allowing the school to host events on-site.

Superintendent Cash noted the High School fielded a Track team for the first time in 19 years this past school year, and participation is expected to grow as the program continues.

The Board also recognized 20 students as part of the District’s Reward Program. The students, one from each grade level at each school, were nominated by teachers for the reward based on academic standards, extra curricular activities and civic accomplishments.

Each student will have a cash award (based on their grade level) deposited in a special account, which can be accessed after graduation. The money is to go toward furthering their education after high school by helping pay for tuition or books.

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