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August 28, 2013

County schools public tax hearing scheduled Sept. 9

RICHMOND — The Madison County School Board has scheduled a public hearing Sept. 9 to discuss a proposed tax levy of 60 cents on real property and 60 cents on personal property.

The public will have the opportunity to comment at the hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Madison Central High School lecture lab.

Last year, the board voted 4-0 to levy a 58.3-cent tax (per $100 assessed value) on real estate, the same rate as the previous year. The personal property rate was lowered to 58.8 cents, a drop from the previous year’s rate of 59.4.

Last year’s rates produced a revenue of $25.3 million. This year’s proposed rate of 60 cents on both real and personal property is expected to produce $26.3 million, $2.2 million of which is generated from new and personal property, according to a hearing notice published in Tuesday’s Richmond Register.

School boards must conduct a public hearing to set the tax rate if they do not take the 2014 compensating rate of 57.7 cents on real property and 58.8 cents on personal property.

Under state law, a compensating rate generates the same revenue ($25.3 million) as the previous year, plus revenue from new properties.

Revenue calculations are based on property values determined by a county’s property valuation administrator.

The additional revenue of $943,000 generated by the proposed rate is to be allocated as follows: cost of collections, $14,149; building fund, $88,039; instruction, $639,283; transportation $84,100; and maintenance of plant $117,700, according to the hearing notice.

During the packed August 2012 tax hike meeting, eight people addressed the board and all were opposed to any tax increase.

After listening to public comments, board chair Mona Isaacs gave a presentation on the district’s finances, noting the district’s expense increases as well as shortfalls in federal and state funding. After the presentation, however, one citizen said she was “tired of the ‘woe-is-me’ rhetoric” from public schools.

Following the vote near the end of the meeting, board member John Lackey, known for his scrutiny of district finances, said that there seemed to be “a certain amount of hypocrisy here.”

Although he did not favor a tax increase, he wanted to point out that there had been about as many people in the lecture hall promoting the building of Central’s controversial $4.6 million sports complex earlier that year as there was that night opposing a tax increase, he said.

“I challenge you to come back,” Lackey said. “We get letters promoting programs, these are good things, and yet when we have to pay for them, you come and oppose it … Each one of you needs to go home and think about it. There are trade-offs here.”

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.

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