School board discusses taxes, future options
A motion to approve a declaration that the Woodford County Board of Education intends to maintain a tax rate of 66.4 cents per $100 of assessed property value for another fiscal year failed by a 2 to 3 vote at a special meeting on Monday.
Vice Chair Debby Edelen and Sherri Springate, who voted no along with Karen Brock, said they did not want to make such a declaration until they know this year’s tax assessments and how much revenue an approved tax rate will raise.
“In the past,” explained Springate, “it seemed prudent to kind of know what those numbers would be … so that we could make an informed and educated decision based on the draft and working budgets. Until we have those numbers, it’s kind of hard to guess.”
The board has voted to maintain a tax rate of 66.4 cents per $100 of assessed value for the last two years. A proposed facilities tax of 5.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, which would have raised the rate to 71.9 cents and provided the bonding (borrowing) capacity to build a new high school, was defeated in a special election June 26.
“I learned a lot from the election exercise,” said board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV. “And one of the many things that I learned is if we make a mistake we need to own it quickly, we need to correct it and we need to learn from it so we can not do it again.” Also, he added, “We need to be 100 percent as transparent as we can be. I think we have always tried to be transparent, but one of the things that’s become clear to me (after the election) is we have valuable partners in the community that can help us, that we can learn from…”
In an aim to become more transparent to the community, Wilson said the board should post its agenda items at least 48 hours before a meeting “so that everyone will have knowledge of what we’re going to talk about so that when they come they can be informed and engaged …” He said the minutes of meetings should also be posted on the district website. With restrictions to ensure student and staff privacy, other board members did not object to Wilson’s recommendation.
At the close of Monday’s special meeting, Edelen suggested that the board may want to schedule some work sessions to “take a hard look at the high school,” to explore its options.
“All we can do,” she later added, “is go forward – not could of, would of, should of. I know we’ve all been doing that for two weeks (post election) …”