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Boyle schools consider 'nickel tax'

August 15, 2003|GARY MOYERS

The Boyle County Board of Education is considering whether it should implement a "nickel tax" to pay for what members say are needed capital improvements and construction in the district.

At a special meeting Thursday night, district finance officer Rick Dear outlined the system's current bond position, comparing it with what are termed unmet needs in the district's facilities plan.

"If we don't do the nickel tax, we couldn't consider another middle school for eight or nine years, depending on our bond ability at that time," said Dear. "Without the tax, we will be able to do some small projects, but not as fast as we need to do them with our projected growth."

School districts were empowered by the Kentucky General Assembly in March with the ability to enact the tax, subject to public recall, as a one-time measure to raise money for debt service and capital projects. Select districts that have shown accelerated growth are allowed to enact the tax with no chance of public recall. Garrard County was one of those districts.

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County's taxpayers can call for a vote

Boyle, however, was not, and falls into the category of districts allowed to implement the tax, at a rate of five cents per $100 of assessed property, with the stipulation that the county's taxpayers can call for a vote. Dear said the nickel tax would generate $411,991 per year.

If Boyle County implements the tax, opponents have 45 days to generate and submit a petition signed by 10 percent of the county's registered voters who voted during the 2000 presidential election. If such a petition is submitted and ruled valid by the county clerk, the measure would appear on the ballot.

Superintendent Pam Rogers told board members "there is a feeling here that the state is pushing local districts to raise taxes, taking the burden off themselves."

Dear cited numbers showing Woodlawn Elementary School is overcrowded, as is Boyle Middle School.

With the renovations at Junction City and Perryville, Woodlawn has the smallest building in the district but has the largest enrollment. "Boyle Middle is terribly overcrowded, and the high school has several repairs and renovations that are needed," Dear said.

"We have huge needs in every building in our system, particularly at our main campus," said Rogers.

Boyle system has $29 million in unmet needs

Dear said the Boyle system has $29 million in unmet needs, as directed by the Kentucky Department of Education, including $12 million for a proposed new middle school that would alleviate overcrowding at both Woodlawn and the current middle school.

"We're about 31,000 square feet below what the state says is the minimum for a middle school with 716 students, which is the enrollment at Boyle Middle School," he said.

Chris Bowling, a representative of J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons, Inc., serving as the district's financial consultant, outlined Boyle County's current debt service and bond capacity, and then provided estimates of how much the bond capacity would increase with the implementation of the tax.

"With the nickel tax, Boyle County would be able to meet the debt service on a bond of $8,675,000, but without the tax, that figure would fall to about $2.2 million," he said.

"We ask a lot of our students and our staff, and the question is do we ask the community to respond at a higher level," said board chairman Preston Miles.

The board took no action, but the issue may be on the agenda at the Aug. 21 regular board meeting. That meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Boyle County High School library.



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