The Oldham County School Board will vote Wednesday night on whether to approve its largest tax increase of the past 10 years.
Superintendent Will Wells says the district has already made $3 million in cuts and part of balancing the district’s budget will also require raising taxes, which he says will allow Oldham 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 needs 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.
If approved, the new tax would cost homeowners with property assessed at $100,000 an additional $45 a year and would 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 on revenue made last year, 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. He says by his count there are around 40 districts that have voted on taxes. A few have not changed the tax rate. Around 15 districts have approved the maximum 4 percent allowed and around 13 districts have approved a compensating rate, which doesn’t generate any new revenue for districts.