The Russellville and Logan County school districts will likely be voting to raise taxes next week in order to help offset funding decreases from the state.
The Russellville Independent School District will be having a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the school board office and then the board will vote at a 7 p.m. meeting.
The district can raise taxes as much as 4 percent from last year, but Superintendent Leon Smith said his office was not thinking about taking the maximum amount.
“We’re eyeballing 77.1 (cents per $100) from my office, but the school board will be the one to make that decision,” Smith said.
Last year’s tax rate was 76.6 cents. Raising it to 77.1 would create an additional $71,00 to the school district’s general fund. The cost to taxpayers would result in about $5 more per year on a home valued at $100,000.
If the school board were to decide to take the maximum four percent raise, that new rate would be 78.8 and would raise taxes $22 per year on a home valued at $100,000.
“I know the public is tax conscious and the school board is also tax conscious,” Smith said. ‘Everybody just needs to realize that we’ve been hit with substantial cuts from the state not only textbook and SEEK funds, but we are also having to pay more from the district end on retirement. More and more of the financial burden is being shifted to the local districts.”
Smith said that in addition to trying to raise additional funds through taxes, his office is also doing what it can to slash expenses.
“We’re looking at our energy costs and staffing while still being able to provide all our services,” Smith said. “We didn’t cut any of our teachers last year - and a lot of districts can’t say that - even though we did reduce some staff in classified areas.”
The Logan County school district will be holding a public hearing on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. about its possible tax increases.
Superintendent Marshall Kemp said his district will looking at taking the full four percent increase, but because school taxes are so low already, it will not make a huge impact.
Last year’s tax rate for the county was just 37.7 cents per $100. Even by taking the full four percent increase, that will only raise Logan’s rate to 38.0 cents - which translates to about a $3 increase on a home valued at $100,000.
“The Logan County district is the 12th lowest in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Kemp said. “Since the money is not flowing from Frankfort, we have to fund the schools however we can at the local level. This is becoming more of a local responsibility than it should be.”
The raise in taxes will mean about $172,418 more per year for the Logan County school district’s general fund.
“We’re just trying to generate the money because we’re still trying to have some quality of education delivery in place,” Kemp said.