Friday, August 25, 2017

New School Balloting will be Sept. 12

Voters across Crittenden County will head to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 12 to approve or reject an “equivalent nickel” school tax for construction. The ballot question will read as follows:

Are you for or against the Crittenden County Board of Education’s levy of an equivalent tax rate of five (0.05) cents on each one hundred dollars ($100.00) valuation of real and personal tangible property to raise funds that would be dedicated strictly to major renovation of existing school facilities, new construction and debt service?

Voters will be asked if they are “For” or “Against” the tax. A simple majority wins.

The verbiage does not spell out the 5.9-cent per $100 valuation that might be levied on tax bills this year. According to Roy Massey IV, legal counsel for the board of education, the wording is not an attempt by the board to be disingenuous and has been used by other boards of education seeking the tax. The precise levy is not included because the equivalent rate could vary each year of the 20-year life of the bond for a new high school. That rate is set by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

The actual “nickel” rate is greater than 5 cents because of how KDE determines how much money should be generated from the tax base. It calculates how much revenue would be produced by 5 cents per $100 valuation of property and motor vehicles in the county. The district is required to collect enough money from property taxes to transfer that dollar amount into its building fund.

How much will it cost each taxpayer
A county resident who owns a $71,800 home, the median value of a house in Crittenden County according to the U.S. Census Bureau, will pay $42.36 more in school taxes if a 5.9-cent increase is approved at the ballot box Sept. 12. A home valued at $100,000 would cost its owner $59 more; a $50,000 home, half that at $29.50.

However, the homestead exemption for seniors and disabled persons would remove $37,600 from the taxable value of a home, lowering the additional tax burden by $22.18. To qualify for the homestead exemption, a person must be at least 65 years old during the tax period or have been classified as totally disabled by any public or private retirement system.  The property must also be owned, occupied and maintained by the taxpayer as a personal residence on the Jan. 1 assessment date.

The average farmer would pay a little more for his land than the typical homeowner in Crittenden County. An average farmer – median land value and acreage – would pay an additional $55.68. That is based on the average size farm – 251 acres – according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture for Crittenden County and the average taxable value of each acre – $376 – based on soil class. Soil classes in the county carry a tax of between $159.35 and $592.64 per acre.Voting information.

Voter information
The Sept. 12 vote to decide the fate of a school tax levy for construction will take place like most any election in Crittenden County – on a Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at all the usual 12 precinct polling locations.

Voter registration, however, is already closed. By statute, voter rolls must close at least 30 days prior to any election. Anyone not registered or registered with an incorrect address will not be able to vote next month. If you are already registered, then you will be able to vote. There are about 6,700 registered voters in the county according to the July report from the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.

For those who will not be in the county on election day, absentee voting will be made available both on a machine located inside the county clerk’s office and through paper ballot. Contact County Clerk Carolyn Byford’s office at (270) 965-3403 to see if you qualify or to request a ballot.

Byford said only one voting machine will be used at each precinct, unlike other elections where two varieties are employed. The eScan machines that read a paper ballot marked and inserted by the voter will be the only option on election day next month. The other machines, eSlate, are much larger and more cumbersome to set up. 

On a short window to get the election ready, Byford said using only one machine will move the process along more quickly and should cost less. She estimates the election will cost the board of education around $20,000.