The Oldham County Board of Education approved the largest allowable tax increase Thursday night, which is also its largest tax increase in the past 10 years.
The board’s 4-1 vote will allow the school district to balance its budget and follows $3 million in cuts made earlier this year. Superintendent Will Wells says raising taxes the maximum 4 percent allows Oldham County Schools to maintain the academic programs that are working.
“We did everything we could to protect our instructional program and not have those cuts impact our classrooms and students but the only thing left to cut, if we don’t generate more revenue, is programs that are getting results,” says Wells.
Wells says despite not raising taxes the past few years, the district had to do it now because pension obligations and state and federal sequester cuts are weighing on the budget.
“With our tax rate staying the same the last three years, property values have actually gone down throughout the country, including Oldham County somewhat, and so that has reduced the money that has come to the district from local property taxes,” he says.
The new tax will cost homeowners with property assessed at $100,000 an additional $45 a year and will generate the $2 million it needs to balance the budget, says Wells.
Oldham County Schools is just one of several around Kentucky that are approving the maximum 4 percent tax increase, which is based off the previous year’s revenue, according to Brad Hughes with the Kentucky School Boards Association.
Hughes has been keeping track of media reports of school districts around the state approving tax increases.
By his count there are around 40 districts that have voted on taxes, according to media reports. A few districts made no changes to the tax rate. Around 15 districts have approved the maximum 4 percent allowed by the state and around 13 districts have approved a compensating rate, which doesn’t generate any new revenue for districts, but may raise or lower tax revenue depending on property estimates.