School boards in three Northeast Kentucky districts opted to raise property taxes this week, and a fourth will consider a hike next month.
Property owners in the Boyd County, Fairview and Russell districts will see the hikes when their property tax bills arrive in October. Boards in each district set tax rates to bring in 4 percent more revenue than in the previous year.
In Boyd County, that meant raising the rate from 65.7 cents per hundred dollars of valuation to 67.4 cents; in Fairview the rate went from 79.1 cents to 82.5 and in Russell it rose from 82.4 cents to 84.9 cents.
Ashland’s board will meet Sept. 13 to set its tax rates and Superintendent Sean Howard said he is recommending it take the 4 percent hike.
There will be a public hearing preceding the meeting.
In Ashland, because property values have risen, the rate would actually be slightly lower. The current rate is 76.1 cents per hundred dollars valuation and the 4 percent increase would result in a rate of 76 cents, according to figures provided by business manager Kristen Martin.
Taking the 4 percent will bring an additional $255,000 to the district, he said.
“We think we’ve been good stewards of the district’s money. We’ve upgraded our fleet of buses, we’ve made improvements in our facilities, and we’re looking at giving our certified staff raises, which would come to about $300,000,” Howard said. The last round of certified staff raises was in the 2015-2016 school year, he said.
State cutbacks and unfunded mandates were behind the Boyd decision, Superintendent Bill Boblett said. Other factors included teacher raises, which keep Boyd competitive with other districts in the region.
In Russell the 4 percent will add about $300,000, Superintendent Sean Horne said. Russell took the compensating rate — a rate calculated to bring in the same amount of revenue — the previous two years and coming needs include raises, facility improvements and transportation, he said.
Fairview’s 4 percent hike brings the rate from 79.1 cents to 82.5 cents.
“As state funding has decreased year after year, our communities across the state are feeling the burden,” Superintendent Jackie Risden-Smith said in an email. “Districts have made cuts to spending during this time, however expenses and needs continue to increase greatly. From fiscal years 2008-2018, Kentucky spent 15.8 percent less in state formula funding per student. This is a huge concern in educating Kentucky's students.”
Greenup County took the compensating rate on her recommendation, Superintendent Traysea Moresea said.
Raceland-Worthington also took the compensating rate, 99.2 cents, which was the same as last year, Superintendent Larry Coldiron said. “We felt that with passage of the second nickel, our community stepped up, and we want to be good stewards of their tax money,” he said.
The second nickel refers to a property tax enacted to pay for construction and renovation; voters could have rescinded it but did not do so and the tax, along with matching money from the state, built the new middle school the district expects to open soon.
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