Making the case for tax increase

RC BOE

The Rowan County School Board held a tax hearing on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 to hear public comments on the issue of a proposed tax increase.  Approximately seventy-five people – members of the Rowan County community along with members of the Rowan County Schools staff – were present for the tax hearing.  As the tax hearing opened for comments from the public, RCSHS Principal Dr. Ray Ginter asked to speak to the members of the Rowan County School Board.  Dr. Ginter spoke about some of the financial challenges that the schools and the district have been facing, citing several examples:

 

  1. With St. Claire Regional Medical Center, Morehead State University, and the Daniel Boone National Forest located in Rowan County, approximately 35% of the county property is tax exempt.
  2. SEEK funding, the formula-driven allocation of state funds to local school districts, has decreased every year over the past several years.  In 2007, the Rowan County School District received $4230 in SEEK funding per student.  In 2011, though, that SEEK funding was cut to $3769/student.
  3. Many of the district’s financial challenges are the direct result of the UNFUNDED mandates coming from both the state and federal governments.  The 2 percent mandated raise next year will cost the Board $200,000.  The anticipated amount to receive for SEEK is $120,000 with the Board having to locally fund the remaining $80,000 to take care of the mandated raise.
  4. Matching funds paid by the school district to the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System will increase from $240,000 (FY2013) to $360,000 (FY2014) to $540,000 (FY2015) to $720,000 (FY2016).  Prior to 2010, school districts did not have to budget for this expense.
  5. The Rowan County School District provides all-day kindergarten; however, the state reimburses the district for half the cost of what it takes to provide all-day classes.
  6. Preschool was cut $86,000 this year, and next year’s budget is unknown.
  7. Because Gateway Health Department could no longer fund the nurses for the schools, the Rowan County School District had to take over that cost.  The District has students that are very fragile, and it is very important that there are nurses that are trained to take care of these students’ needs.
  8. When the Kentucky School Board Insurance Trust (KSBIT) went bankrupt last year, participating school districts were required to pay a portion of the organization’s debt.  The Rowan County School District’s portion has been assessed at $560,057, with the first year’s payment amounting to $163,535.
  9. The District has had to dip into capital outlay funds to cover rising insurance costs.
  10. Transportation funding from the state amounts to $1 million.  Due to rising fuel and maintenance costs, the district must budget at least $2.1 million for student transportation.  There has been no increase in transportation funding since the 2003-2004 school year.
  11. The District is required by both the state and federal governments to test students more.  The cost of these tests amounts over $34,000 annually.
  12. While there have been staffing cuts made to help meet the budget shortfalls, student numbers have increased.

 

Several community members addressed the members of the School Board with their concerns against increasing the tax rate while several members of the Rowan County Schools staff spoke out in favor of the tax increase.   One community member, Rob Hamm, encouraged the audience members to contact the legislators to ask them for relief for the school districts.  The 30-minute hearing, which was scheduled for 6:00 p.m., was adjourned at 6:30 p.m. at which time a special-called meeting of the Rowan County School Board was called to order to take a vote on the motion.

 

By a majority vote, the Rowan County School Board voted for an increase on the school tax on real estate and personal property.  The motion read as follows: Motion to approve real estate tax of 56.8 and a personal property/tangible tax rate of 56.8 and to exempt the tax on aircraft (recreational and noncommercial), watercraft (noncommercial out of state or coast guard registered), and inventory in transit for the 2013 - 2014 school year and a utility tax of 3 percent. The board unanimously approved a motion to approve the motor vehicle tax to continue at the same rate, approving a rate of 49 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

 

“The Rowan County School District is being asked by both the state and federal government to do more for its students without being given the funds to support the mandates,” said Superintendent Marvin Moore.  “I agree with Education Commissioner Dr. Terry Holliday when he said that, without reinvestment in public education, our kids are going to lose out.  Our kids are the future of this nation. It is vital that we urge our legislators to take action and invest in the education of our students.”

 

Rowan County School Board Chairman Bill Redwine agreed, adding, “It is clearly evident that in order to maintain the educational services that our children deserve, additional resources must be provided.  Hopefully, the elected officials in Frankfort and in Washington have to come to the realization that we cannot continue to place more burden on our local constituents.  New revenue streams must come from both the state and federal governments.”

 

Listed below are the addresses for Rowan County’s state and federal legislators:

 

State Senator Walter Blevins Jr.

P. O. Box 604

West Liberty, KY 41472

1-800-372-7181 (Office)

e-mail:  walter.blevins@lrc.ky.gov

 

State Representative John Will Stacy

P. O. Box 135

West Liberty, KY 41472

606-743-1516 (Home)

1-800-372-7181 (Frankfort)

 

State Representative Rocky Adkins

P. O. Box 688

Sandy Hook, KY 41171

606-738-4242 (home)

1-502-564-8100, Ext. 659

(Frankfort)

606-928-0407 (Ashland)

 

U. S. Representative Hal Rogers

2406 Rayburn House Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20510

202-225-4601

606-679-8346 (Somerset)

 

U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell

317 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

202-224-2541

 

U. S. Senator Rand Paul

Russell Office Building

Room 124

Washington, DC 20510

202-224-4343





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