Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 9, 2013

Clerk confirms Fairview utility tax signatures

Mike James
The Independent

WESTWOOD — More than enough signatures have been verified to assure a vote on the utilities tax in the Fairview Independent School District, Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones confirmed Friday.

Clerks in her office completed the authentication process late Thursday, greenlighting the issue for its already scheduled Feb. 19 election date.

Clerks verified 313 signatures out of 351 submitted, Jones said.

That is more than twice as many as the 147 needed to bring the issue before voters.

The election is already scheduled because the petitions had been circulated twice by opponents of the 3 percent levy the Fairview school board enacted in December. The board challenged a first round of petitions on grounds the wording was out of order, and the two sides settled their differences in a court hearing by agreeing on a new petition with language suggested by the judge.

“We’re all set to go to the election. It’s in the people’s hands now,” said Joe Weis, a member of the petition committee.

The verification took longer for the second petition because Jones was involved in election training and working on a new vehicle registry system slated for launch in the fall.

The wording on the ballot issue remains a concern, Weis said Friday. The ballot language reads, “Are you in favor of recalling the utility tax or levy adopted by the Fairview board of education?”

Hence, the issue requires a yes vote for repeal or a no vote to keep the tax. Weis said that is confusing to some voters.

Training for poll workers in the election included a briefing on Kentucky’s tax laws, Jones said. “I took them through the tax process so they would understand what the election is about. I feel comfortable that they understood,” she said.

The school board will have an open house at Fairview High School from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, said board chairman Scott McIntyre. Visitors will walk through the school to view the condition of facilities until 7 p.m.; the last hour will be a moderated question-and-answer session during which participants may submit written questions, McIntyre said.

The high school already is slated for renovations, but the board has said it wants to use the tax to fund a more complete upgrading of the school and addition of a middle school wing.

The tax would be levied against gas, water, electric, cable, telephone, cellphone and sewer bills.

The board enacted it in December, but state law provides for voters to rescind it if enough of them sign petitions to bring it to the ballot box.

Two previous bids for a utilities tax were defeated at the polls.

The board has not had second thoughts about the tax, McIntyre said. “We as a board believe we have the obligation to do what’s right for the kids and the school,” he said.

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

(606) 326-2652.