After listening to several comments from the public, members of the Hardin County Board of Education voted to slightly raise property tax rates Thursday night.
The new tax rate is 63.5 cents per $100 of assessed value on personal and real property is expected to generate nearly $40 million in revenue for the district. The compensating tax rate, which would be a 2 percent increase in revenue, narrowly passed with a 3-2 vote. Chairman Charlie Wise, vice chairwoman Dawn Johnson and board member Ben Sego voted for the levy while board members Kay Sharon and John Emary against.
A person owning a $100,000 home in the Hardin County Schools district can expect to pay $635 in property taxes this year.
Emary, who was sworn in to the school board Wednesday, said he took the past day to consider the district’s needs and the wants of the taxpayers.
“The compensating rate for me, just to be honest and upfront with my heart, is not on my table at all tonight,” Emary said. “I’m tending towards the four percent (increase in revenue) because it helps out in the district. We don’t have to struggle and worry about what we’re doing.”
The 4 percent increase in revenue is the most allowed by a Kentucky taxing district without being subject to a recall vote.
Sharon also wanted a four percent increase in revenue, which would have netted the district about $40.6 million, to help the district’s children, she said.
“I sure don’t want to be known as the board that caused the school district to decline,” Sharon said.
Sego said he took into consideration property owners who live on a fixed income and said he was envious of Warren County Public School’s occupational tax, which also has property tax rates of 46.1 cents per $100.
“I know it’s horrible to tax jobs but their property taxes are quite low and you can job shop. You can decide to work there or you can work in Nashville,” he said. “You can change your job a lot more quickly than you can change your house.”
Last year, the tax rates were 63.1 cents on real property and 62.9 cents on personal property. Those rates gave the school district $37.6 million.
The vote came one day after at least five people spoke at a Wednesday public hearing, concerned with the tax increase.
“How much money (does it take) to run this system,” said Bobby Alexander. “I see school buses running on the streets of Hardin County throughout the summer that when I grew up you never saw a school bus in the summer. We have so many programs going on. We are hiring so many people to run those programs. Is there no end to that?”
John Stith, HCS chief operations officer, said the district is raising facing rising costs, such as the state’s retirement system. The school district already has made cuts to other areas, such as band programs and special education teachers.
The school district is expected to approve its working budget in September.