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Bardstown Schools propose increase in tax revenue

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Public hearing set for Aug. 14

By Kacie Goode

There was little discussion but visible reluctance Tuesday night as the Bardstown Independent Schools Board of Education set a preliminary 4 percent increase in tax revenue over the prior year, which is equivalent to 1.7 cents per $100 property value, or $17 per $100,000.

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“There’s no other decision in the school business that’s more difficult than this one,” Superintendent Brent Holsclaw told the board during the special-called meeting. “I think I speak on your behalf that we do not minimize the burden in any form or fashion that might be placed on someone in our community by a decision that we make, especially concerning the tax rate.”

The proposed general fund tax levy would be 81.4 cents per $100 of real and personal property, which includes 0.1 cent added to recover prior year losses because of exonerations. The rate is anticipated to produce $9,542,795.84 in revenue, of which around $2.7 million would come from new and personal property. The proposed rate is expected to produce around $363,000 more than if the district chose the compensating rate.

District Treasurer Tracey Rogers said $1.9 million, no matter what rate the board chose, would be required to be transferred to the building fund, which cannot be used for instruction, salaries or utilities.

Prior to approval, Director of Human Resources Joey Downs spoke about why the district would choose to go with the proposed 4 percent revenue increase. Downs cited a step raise in the salary schedule, a nearly $150,000 combined increase in workers’ compensation and property and liability insurance, and an increase in the district’s Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System contribution, among other factors as the reason to pursue the 4 percent. State funding also plays a large role in the decision.

SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky) funding has been “flat-lined for a lot of years,” while operating costs continue to rise, Downs said, and the burden has been shifted to local districts. SEEK is a formula-driven allocation of state provided funds to local school districts, according to the Kentucky Department of Education, and combines state and local monies.

“The overall state’s funding percentage has decreased,” Holsclaw said, referencing a 3 percent change for the district between 2008 and 2016. “You as a board of education and many other boards just like you have been faced with how do you make up that 3 percent. School boards across Kentucky have been forced to find ways to fund this gap, and for the majority of us, the only option we have is this option. … This is not a luxury. This is a necessity for us to continue to offer what we are here to offer.”

A public hearing will be held on Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. for the public to comment on the proposal. A final decision is expected at the board’s regular meeting Aug. 15.