Education

The Jefferson County Board of Education voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday to lower the tax rate for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. But because property values have risen in Jefferson County, the new lower rate will still bring in more revenue for the district than last year. 

The new rate is 76.3 cents per $100 dollars assessed property value, down from the 79.6-cent tax rate for the prior year. That means the owner of a $200,000 dollar home would see their tax bill drop by $66 next year.

The new personal property tax rate, for items like office furniture and machinery, and business inventories, will drop to 76.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, down from 79.6 cents. 

The new tax rate is expected to generate a 4% increase in tax revenue — that’s the maximum allowed increase without the possibility of the tax rate being recalled in a referendum.

The board of education only recently won a years-long battle over the last time it raised taxes to produce revenues above 4%. 

In reaction to that failed effort, state Republican lawmakers drastically reduced the number of signatures needed on a petition to send a tax increase to a ballot referendum, increasing the likelihood that JCPS will have to justify tax future hikes above the threshold to voters.

This is the second year in a row the board has opted to lower the tax rate to bring revenues just under the line that would trigger a potential referendum. 

Officials say they plan to spend the $35 million in expected additional funds mostly on instruction and facilities.

Part of the tax revenue increase will go to fill the decline in state funding to JCPS since last year. Because of the state’s complicated SEEK funding formula, districts with higher property values see lower contributions from the state. With JCPS’ assessed property value going up, the state contribution to JCPS dropped by about $9.5 million.

District 7 board member Sarah Cole McIntosh said she often hears lawmakers tout “record-breaking” state expenditures on education.

“That is true for some districts, but it is not true for Jefferson County,” she said.

While state lawmakers appropriated more for public education than ever before, research shows it hasn’t kept up with inflation.

District 2 board member Chris Kolb suggested the board may need to raise tax revenues above 4% in the future.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.