Five members of the Stop Madison County Tax Increase Committee filed an affidavit this week for a petition against the 139% county property tax increase, which was approved Tuesday and sent other opposing taxpayers into a frenzy trying to find out where and how soon they can sign their name to vote against the increase.
Members of the committee filed the document Wednesday with the county clerk, and are now on a mission to obtain 3,780 signatures in 41 days on the petition in hopes of recalling the approved tax increase and getting it on an election ballot for a citizens’ vote.
The number of signatures needed is determined by requiring 10% of qualified and registered voters who voted in the last presidential election.
Nicholas Calmes, the committee’s representation in their efforts to hold a referendum on resolution 19-14, said that his clients filed the petition in questioning the fiscal court's judgement on whether such a large increase was the correct method of trying to help solve an overcrowding issue at the Madison County Detention Center. Their main goal, he said, is to recall the resolution and renegotiate it.
"We question not their motives, not their intents," he said. "We don't have any ill will toward the magistrates and the judge. We question the fiscal court's judgement on this though. But we don't question its ethics... Madison County could have stomached an increase, but not to this level."
Calmes said that the people of Madison County face one large fundamental question when deciding to sign the petition.
“Do the people of Madison County believe that it should be up to five members to determine what your tax rate will be and the extent to what it will be?” he asked. “Or do you believe it should be left up to the people of Madison County as to whether such a burdensome tax should be imposed? The final check should be with the people of Madison County.”
Calmes said that regardless of the tax increase, the referendum process was a good initiative because, if anything, it will teach citizens and taxpayers how to do their civic duty, which can be somewhat complicated.
Although they only need 3,780 signatures, Calmes said that he aims to have double that figure, since there is a potential for a margin of error in acquiring a large number of signatures.
Where you can sign?
People wanting to sign the petition or pick up signature sheets can do so Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Madison County Public Library in Richmond from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Another opportunity to sign or pick up and turn in signature sheets will be held Tuesday, Sept. 17 at the Madison County Public Library in Berea, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
People can also download and print out a copy of a signature sheet to fill out from the Madison County Tax Watch-non partisan group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mctaxwatch/. These filled out signature sheets can be turned into any of the five committee members addresses listed below:
• Mary McMahan — 2470 Cedar Hill Drive, Richmond.
• Rick McMahan — 2470 Cedar Hill Drive, Richmond.
• Shane O'Donley — 927 Westchester Way, Richmond.
• Mary Renfro — 123 Welchwood Drive, Berea.
• Elizabeth J. Saylor — 240 Apache Drive, Paint Lick.
The correct petition to sign reads "Petition signature page(s) with petition to recall Resolution 19-14" across the top of the signature page. All signature sheets should be full with no empty spaces when turned into committee members. It is important that people are able to distinguish the correct petition as it is the only one that is legally correct to be filed.
How do I sign?
In signing a petition in opposition to the tax increase, participants are required to provide their signature, print their name, provide their birth date or social security number and provide their precinct number and name, something that Calmes said can be difficult for some people to find.
Including a name for signature on the ballot is strictly laid out by KRS statute and should include and be written as follows:
• Your signature that is the same name that matches voter registration rolls
• Your printed, legible name that is the exact same as the signature and matches voter registration rolls
• Your full street address that matches voter registration rolls
• Your date of birth spelled out fully with no abbreviations or symbols (ex: January 1, 2000)
• Both the name and number of your voter precinct written identical to voter registration rolls with no abbreviations or symbols (ex. of precinct number: B101R, ex. of precinct name: Saratoga-Arlington-Rosedale)
Any items on a petition signature that do not match the voter registration rolls identically has the potential to be stricken from the document and counted as null. Committee members and Calmes ask that those who sign a petition do so only one time, and make sure that it is turned into any one of the five members listed above.
If an individual does not know their precinct name or number, they can call the county clerk's office at 859-624-4703 or check on the voter information center website at https://www.vrsws.sos.ky.gov/vic/.
Those that are not registered to vote, but would like to sign the petition, are required to be registered prior to signing their name. People can register to vote at the Madison County Courthouse located at 101 West Main Street in Richmond.
If the group does receive all the signatures they require by Oct. 25, the petition will then be turned back over to the county clerk’s office for certification of signatures. If they meet the 3,780 signatures needed, the vote could be placed on a future ballot, according to county clerk Kenny Barger.
The Madison County Tax Watch non-partisan group will update their Facebook page with any additional dates added where citizens can come to sign a petition, or turn in and/or pick up additional petition signature pages.