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Nickel tax is a heavy demand on local taxpayers

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By The Staff

As I started to write this article, there was a message on the answering machine asking for a yes vote on the nickel tax on Nov. 4. The caller stated, “You will be voting for one nickel period and it will not lead to any more add-ons. It’s to be used for maintenance and renovation of current buildings.”

Well, folks, that’s not all true. The Marion County school system has set aside one nickel per $100 of your assessed property tax dollars as required by the state for several years. Now, they want the recallable nickel, which is actually 5.6 cents per $100 of your assessed value. And I recently learned from the Department of Education in Frankfort ((502) 564-1976) that if the recallable nickel is voted in, then Marion County with growth could automatically levy an additional growth nickel of 5.6 cents per $100 of your assessed property value. That’s a total of three nickels. Apparently, Marion County school board nickels equal 5.6 cents each, so that’s approximately 16.8 cents per $100 of your assessed property value on top of what you are already paying to the schools. (Editor’s note: The 16.8 cents includes the first “nickel” which is already part of the school board’s tax rate.) The recallable nickel would help receive approximately $18 million in bonding potential. How many millions do they want? Apparently all they can get, as long as you, the taxpayer, is footing the bill. As far as equalization from the state, Section 183 of Kentucky’s Constitution provides “The General Assembly shall, by appropriate legislation, provide for an efficient system of common schools throughout the state.” These are your tax dollars anyway. The General Assembly must provide every child in Kentucky the same educational opportunities. They are trying to transfer their duty to the local taxpayer. One example of transferring duties to the taxpayer, look at your property tax bill you should have received on or around Oct. 1. I am looking at a property tax bill reading assessed value of $112,000 with the total tax of $880.21. The Marion County school tax portion is $536.48. That’s 61 percent of the $880.21 bill. This is just one property tax bill. Where is all the money going, not to count all the previous years of tax dollars they have received? And don’t forget, if the nickel tax passes, you will receive another 2008 tax bill. Marion County Citizens for Better Schools information shows from 1963 to 1970 four brand new schools were built and paid for by your tax dollars. Lebanon Elementary, Calvary Elementary, the area technology center and Marion County High School. After seeing this information, I am thinking from 1963 to 1970 in Marion County there were fewer people, less of a tax base and less industry. Then from 1988 to 1994, we built and paid for West Marion Elementary and Lebanon Middle, and times were running along at a good pace. Now, it’s 2008 in Marion County with more people, a higher tax base and more industry. The Marion County school system says they can’t even maintain current buildings without raising your taxes. Let’s ask ourselves, have school tax dollars been mishandled? Is it falling through the cracks? Maybe this is a buyout of your misused tax dollars. Here’s an idea: don’t just throw money at a situation. Maybe the Marion County school system needs to tighten its belt, like I and many other taxpayers are having to do with the current times. Let’s adopt the same style budget that the school system had from 1963 to 1970 for the 2009 school budget. Let’s review the facts: 1. Was the message on the answering machine all true? No 2. Will the nickel tax go away? No. 3. Is the growth nickel required to be voted on by the taxpayers to be levied? No 4. Is it Marion County taxpayers sole responsibility to maintain and renovate schools? No. 5. Should the superintendent and five school board members have the right to levy additional taxes? No. 6. Are you voting for one more nickel and no more add-ons? No. 7. Should a 5.6 cent tax be called just a nickel? No. 8. Do expensive buildings educate children? No 9. Do you feel the school board is being as considerate with your tax dollars as you would be? No. 10. Are you in favor of the Marion County Board of Education’s levying of a real property tax of five cents ($0.05) on each one hundred dollars ($100) valuation to provide funds to maintain, renovate and construct school facilities? Against. It’s time the hard-working taxpayers of Marion County make a stand and be counted.  Vote no Nov. 4. Editor’s note: Mark Gardner is a citizen of Marion County who is opposed to the recallable nickel.