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County school board OKs 4% tax revenue hike in face of reduced state funding

The Nelson County Board of Education. From left, Carla xxx, Superintendent Wes Bradley, board chair Diane Berry, board members Rebeka McGuire-Dye, Jeff Dickerson, Diane Breeding, and Damon Jackey.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 — The Nelson County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to set the 2019 tax rate to create a full 4 percent increase in tax revenue.

Because of an increase in assessments and new construction, the actual 2019 tax rate was lowered from 2018’s 77.2 cents per $100 of property valuation to a 2019’s 75.3 cents per $100 valuation for real estate and tangible property.

Nearly 84 percent of the district’s budget comes from a combination of state SEEK funding and local property tax revenue, Amy Owens, the district’s chief financial officer, told the board. But increases in value and local assessments mean the state will reduce a district’s SEEK funding.

This year, the state’s SEEK funding will drop by about $900,000 from last year, she said.

Additionally, the first 15 cents of the district’s property tax is restricted and goes into a building fund that cannot be used for general operating expenses. Despite the tax revenue increase, the district will fall short approximately $500,000, Owen explained.

The board voted unanimously for the tax rate change.

A public hearing about the tax rate drew no comments from the public.

WORKING BUDGET. Due to the reduction in state funding, the district wil fall short of total revenue to cover the full $33 million of expenses in the working budget.

Owen told the board that she had worked over the past month and a half to see how expenses could be cut, “but as you guys have said, we can’t move backward.”

The district has allocated money to schools, and rather than revise the budget, Owen recommended the board pull the shortfall from the district contingency fund.

The contingency fund grew by $800,000 last year, thanks in part to distilled spirits revenue. Owen said covering the shortfall from the contingency fund was the best feasible option rather than cutting expenses.

The board voted unanimously to adopt the working budget for 2019-20.

REVISED SALARY SCHEDULE. The school district has been unable to hire a lead mechanic at the existing salary, so the board approved a revised salary schedule.

The revised salary range begins at $19.76 for an entry level lead mechanic, and tops out at $28.88 with 27 years experience. The lead mechanic position will also be paid an additional annual stipend of $10,000.

NEXT UP. The Nelson County Board of Education next meets on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. for its October working session. The board meets at the district’s Central Office, 288 Wildcat Lane.

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