• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Signs against school tax hike stolen, Stahler says

Three signs urging Woodford Countians to vote “Against” a proposed 5.5 cent property tax hike to pay for a new high school have been stolen, according to Paul Stahler. He chaired a recall petition committee that was successful in getting enough signatures of qualified voters to place the tax issue on the ballot for a June 26 special election.

“We’ve got to get people out to vote,” said Stahler. “…That’s one of our strategies.” If people keep taking our signs “it gets a little bit harder,” he added.

In recent weeks, a 4-foot-by-4-foot “Against” sign was stolen from Troy Pike at Pinckard Pike and a yard sign opposing the tax hike was stolen from in front of Jeff Jones Marine on Frankfort Street, Stahler said. He said the larger sign cost $82.50. “That was somebody’s private money,” he said.

With a very limited budget for its campaign against the tax hike, Stahler said, “…all our signs are valuable…”

His group, which identifies itself as Citizens Against the Tax Increase, has purchased 125 signs with dollars donated by individuals, according to Stahler. He said both signs have been replaced with yard signs, but a larger “Against” sign was not purchased for the Troy Pike location.

“We don’t agree (with those supporting a tax increase) – that’s fine. We’re on two sides of the issue, but do we have to have signs taken? That’s the frustrating part of it,” said Stahler, a former schools superintendent and Woodford County Board of Education member.

He said a third “Against” yard sign was stolen from a Midway location this past weekend. Its metal frame was thrown in a bush, he added.

On Tuesday morning, Stahler said he planned to report the most recent theft. Versailles Police Lt. Michael Fortney confirmed the earlier sign thefts had been reported to his department.

Stahler said the number of signs urging Woodford Countians to vote “For” a tax increase far-outnumber those urging them to vote “Against” the 5.5 cent tax hike on real and personal property.

“We feel like ours have to be placed very strategically in high traffic areas because we just don’t have very many (signs),” said Stahler.

In his neighborhood, he said there are “maybe three or four signs ‘Against’ out there, and we are just covered up with ‘For’ signs.”

The proposed facilities tax would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $55 a year in school taxes and the owner of a $200,000 home an additional $110 annually, according to schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins.

The proposed 5.5 cent tax per $100 of assessed value would also be assessed on personal property, including business inventory, finished goods, noncommercial aircraft and watercraft. Distilled spirits such as bourbon stored in the county are also subject to school taxes, Hawkins has said.

In addition to paying the cost of building a new high school, the proposed 5.5 cent facilities tax would allow the Woodford County Board of Education to renovate other schools.

The current high school, which opened in 1964, will likely be repurposed for other programs including technical education courses to prepare students for careers in manufacturing jobs, school officials have said.

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