Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 17, 2012

Bills showing school taxes

ASHLAND — Ashland residents are getting a bit of sticker shock as they open their property tax bills this week.

The bills are higher, in part because the Ashland Board of Education agreed earlier this year on a 4 percent rate increase, but also because of another increase that adds a nickel for every hundred dollars of assessed value.

The second increase is called the additional nickel tax and it can only be used for building improvements.

The owner of a house valued at $70,000 would pay $35 more per year for the tax.

The school board imposed the nickel increase in 2011. Voters could have shot it down but doing so would have required a petition drive to put the issue on the ballot, and that didn’t happen.

The 4 percent increase was not subject to voter approval and is not restricted to building improvement.

The nickel tax is expected to bring in about $450,000 per year, to which the state will add about $550,000. With that $1 million per year, the district can borrow about $14 million and move forward on an ambitious building plan.

At the top of the building priority list is a complete renovation of Verity Middle School. Verity now houses seventh and eighth grades and the renovation will add a sixth-grade center.

The property tax hike replaces dwindling support from the state, Superintendent Steve Gilmore said. He said in the five years he has been superintendent state funding has dropped roughly $250,000 per year.

“We’re doing more with diminishing funds. The philosophy in Frankfort is let the local communities pay for schools. We’re not getting a lot of help out of Frankfort,” he said.

By imposing the tax when it did, the board allowed the district to lock in the state match and favorable interest rates, Gilmore said.

Besides Verity, the money is needed to upgrade the five elementary schools and finish renovations at Paul G. Blazer High.

Improving schools improves the community and makes it more attractive as a business location. “As mayor I found that the very first thing business prospects ask is about the schools,” Gilmore said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2652.

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