In its bid to enact a nickel tax that will support future construction projects for the school district, the Trigg County Board of Education has filed a complaint in Trigg County Circuit Court against Trigg County Clerk Carmen Finley.

The complaint and petition are against Finley in her official capacity as county clerk.

Initially dated Feb. 1, 2023, and amended two days later, the complaint is the next in a round of actions in the weeks since the board passed its nickel tax on Dec. 9 following a public hearing that same day at the board office.

A group of citizens, the Trigg County Citizens Right to Vote on Tax Increases Committee, subsequently filed an affidavit and sought to gather taxpayer signatures for a vote on the tax.

Those signatures were submitted on Jan. 23 to Finley, who found the petition of signatures sufficient to place the nickel tax on a ballot.

Among other things, the school board’s current complaint notes the county clerk erred when she found the petition to be sufficient.

“Once the petition was filed, the county clerk had the responsibility of reviewing the petition, including the affidavit, to determine whether the petition filed was sufficient,” attorney Jack N. Lackey Jr., counsel for the school board, wrote in the complaint submitted to the circuit court.

“In this case, the county clerk determined in error that the petition was sufficient, which was an abuse of her discretion,” he continued.

The school board’s complaint notes that the petition does not protest the tax levy as it is required to do under Kentucky Revised Statute 132.017, the statute that sets forth the requirements and procedures for recall petitions.

Instead, it simply states that the signers are either “for” or “against” the tax levy, which is a 58.9 cent tax levy per $100 of assessed value on both real and personal property.

Additionally, the petition overstates the magnitude of the tax increase by 52.5% and doubles down on its statement by indicating an 11.553% increase on real and personal property instead of the correct 7.285% increase on real and personal property, the complaint notes.

The complaint also points out that the affidavit initially submitted to the county clerk’s office failed to comply with KRS 132.017.

The statute’s use of the term “affidavit” requires the administration and taking of an oath, and for this affidavit, there was no indication an oath was ever administered, according to the complaint. The complaint further notes that only one of the five signatures included on the affidavit was notarized.

Under the requirements of the state statute, any petition challenging the county clerk’s final determination has to be filed within 10 days of the issuance of the county clerk’s final determination.

The school board’s challenge to the citizens’ petition was filed on Feb. 1, nine days after Jan. 23, the day the county clerk certified her findings on the petition and provided letters to both the school board and the citizens group.

KRS 132.017 notes that “a final determination of the sufficiency of a petition shall be subject to final review by the Circuit Court of the county in which the local governmental entity or district board of education is located and shall be limited to the validity of the county clerk’s determination,’ according to the statute.

The school board initially broached the possibility of a tax increase during a meeting last November when School Superintendent Bill Thorpe explained that the increase would allow for the renovation of Trigg County High School, the only building on the district campus that hasn’t been renovated in the past 20 years.

Thorpe also noted that an increase would address other capital needs as they arise.

“The nickel tax will increase our bonding potential by $8,460,000, and once the legislature matches it in 2027, it would increase to make $12,820,000,” the superintendent said during that Nov. 10 meeting, which saw the board approve the increase on first reading.

Thorpe pointed out that the nickel tax, because of an increase in Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky funding, would actually only be a tax of 4 cents per $100 of assessed property value rather than the traditional 6-cent increase.

He noted that the proposed nickel tax would accomplish the goals and needs of the district and would be very considerate of taxpayers.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or

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