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County school board discusses tax rates, looks at 4 percent tax revenue hike

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 — The Nelson County Board of Education spent nearly an hour discussing the district’s 2019 budget and the need for tax revenue to help replace anticipated cuts in state funding.

Amy Owens, the district’s chief financial officer, led the discussion about the district’s finances, the county’s property assessments and the anticipated tax rates and the revenues they would generate.

Due to an increase in property assessments, the district can create a 4 percent tax revenue increase by reducing the tax 2018 tax rate from its current level of 76.4 cents per $100 value, Owens explained. She also provided the board with tax rates that would create 1, 2 and 3 percent revenue increases for comparison.

The district has seen drops in state SEEK funding of $5.2 million in the past 10 years. Without the district taking the 4 percent tax revenue increase, it would leave the district approximately $500,000 short of funding.

Funding is critical for the district’s ongoing initiatives, Superintendent Wes Bradley explained.

“This is just the beginning of our discussions about our allocation processes,” he said.

“We are committed to making our processes more community centered, and we expect our experiences for our kids to get better,” he said. “We will continue to have the discussion about how we get more money back to the schools and site-based councils.”

Owens said she and Bradley were examining ways to get more money to the schools to spend, to give them flexibility and opportunities for creativity. Even the 4 percent tax revenue increase won’t fund the district with the funding it spent last year, she explained.

Bradley said there were several initiatives he felt were priorities for district funding. Those included allocating more resources devoted to facilitate student leadership; funding for activity buses; school safety; college and career pathways; employee pay and benefits and others.

“These are all things we would like to do,” he said.

The 4 percent tax revenue increase will still require cuts to some programs, Owens explained.

“Even with the 4 percent, we’re still making some cuts, but they’re not in the programs you guys just initiated,” she said. “We’re looking at other areas and thinking ‘what do we need and what do we not need’?”

The district also needs to purchase buses in the 2019 budget, Owens explained. To “catch up” with its bus replacement schedule, the district needs to purchase 10 buses, but will budget the purchase of five buses, each of which costs more than $80,000.

TAX PUBLIC HEARING SET. A public hearing regarding the district’s tax rate will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, right before the board’s regular meeting at 5 p.m.

In other business, the board:

— reviewed the district’s working budget with Owens. The district plans to move the copier costs from the individual schools and make it a district expense, which will free up some funding for each school, Bradley explained. Owens said the 1-to-1 Chromebook program will eventually lead to the need for fewer paper copies, which will offer the district additional savings.

— reviewed an agreement the board will approve at its meeting later this month to assist the Central Kentucky Headstart program.

NEXT UP. The board’s next regular meeting is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. A public hearing regarding the district’s new tax rate will begin before the meeting at 4:30 p.m.

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