Nickel tax election is Tuesday

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By The Staff

Tuesday is Election Day, the day that will decide the fate of the nickel tax proposed by the Taylor County School District. Only those living within the Taylor County School District boundaries and are registered voters are eligible to participate in this decision.

Last November, Taylor County School Superintendent Roger Cook proposed a nickel tax levy that would increase the District's bonding potential to a little more than $21 million. The nickel levy, Cook said, would cost $50 per year for those owning homes valued at $100,000. His PowerPoint presentation showed the condition of the elementary school's roof as well as mold, peeling paint due to the moisture, an old window air conditioner unit and even a trashcan placed in the ductwork to catch leaks.

Cook's plan did not stop at the elementary school. He explained that a new high school facility could include state-of-the-art computer labs, intelligent classrooms, an auditorium, science labs and a gymnasium large enough to host a regional tournament. At a recent meeting, however, Cook said a regional gym has not been part of the plans because the state will not allow districts to build gyms larger than the student population.

At a special Board of Education meeting in December, Cook told board members that Kentucky Department of Education officials had given the OK to proceed with plans for a new high school and a renovated elementary school.

"We could be looking at building $30 million worth of schools," he said.

In January of this year, the Taylor County Elementary gym was closed twice due to raw sewage backing up through pipes in the gym.

In February, the Taylor County School Board approved a resolution adopting an extra nickel tax by unanimous vote.

"It's time our students and our kids have things that others do around us," Cook said.

The tax would have gone into effect 45 days after the Board vote. However, a committee opposing the tax formed and began circulating petitions to force the tax question to be voted upon. The committee was successful in its challenge and the question will be decided Tuesday at the polls.

Committee member James R. DeWitt said at the time, "We just feel like it needs to be done fairly. The committee simply wants to let the taxpayers decide the issue."

A new wrinkle surfaced May 28 when the Kentucky Legislature passed its budget. A provision was included that only districts that pass a tax of 5 cents per $100 in property value to fund facilities construction will be eligible for future state construction funding. That puts us in a difficult spot to maintain safe, efficient schools.

If the nickel tax passes, we expect the Taylor County School Board to act responsibly when planning and building new facilities. If we need new buildings, they should be functional and not built to match the Taj Mahal.

We agree that there are many factors to consider before we cast our votes on Tuesday. We thank the committee whose efforts have given us a chance to be heard. The Taylor County School Board is spending an estimated $15,000 for this opportunity. Now it's up to us. See you at the polls.