• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

School board postpones facilities tax hearing

The Woodford County Board of Education voted on Tuesday to postpone a facilities tax hearing that had been scheduled on Thursday, Oct. 12. The decision to delay a public hearing on a proposed tax for building a new $47 million high school was twofold, according to schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins and board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV during an interview following the board's action. Wilson said the board will schedule a public hearing on the proposed facilities tax after a special session of Kentucky's General Assembly, which will give the board an opportunity to have a better understanding of the financial ramifications and plan for possible budget cuts that may be facing local school districts. By delaying action on a proposed facilities tax until after a special legislative session (likely to happen in November), the proposed 6-cent tax will not take effect until homeowners receive their regular tax bills in 2018, Wilson said. "So ... there's no need to rush into making a decision...," he said. And homeowners will not face the confusing situation of receiving a second property tax bill this year, Hawkins said. The superintendent said he does not anticipate scheduling any more public forums on the proposed facilities tax before a public hearing, but Wilson said he and other board members will be available to answer questions posed by constituents in their school districts and "we will solicit feedback from people in the community..." "If questions do come up, we've got plenty of time to answer those and address those" questions, said Hawkins. Once a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly has concluded and "we have an opportunity to see what that impact's going to be (financially), we can set a date then on when we want to go forward," he said. "But it will be sooner rather than later," explained Wilson, "because we need to make a decision. The community needs to know what the decision is. We need to be able to - whatever the next steps are - to move forward." If and when a 6-cent facilities tax gets board approval and a petition of opposition does not have the needed signatures to contest a facilities tax, "we wouldn't have to wait until November of next year to start working on the project," said Wilson. The district already has building funds to begin work on the architectural piece of the high school project, Hawkins said. The board's action to postpone a facilities tax hearing was unanimous, with Debby Edelen and Karen Brock not present.

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