With the Christian County Public Schools’ nickel tax election two months away, the district is putting its campaign in full gear. Today, the district officially launches vote-for-our-schools.com, a website aimed at educating the public about the proposed tax and, the district hopes, gaining votes for it in November.
The website opens the the ballot question: “Are you for or against the Christian County Board of Education levying an additional equivalent tax rate of five cents on each $100 of real and personal property to raise funds to be used only for major renovation of existing school facilities, new construction, and debt service on that construction or renovation?”
The bottom of the front page contains a list of local businesses and residents who are openly in favor of the tax.
When asked why the district chose to create the website, CCPS Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill said that the district wants to “help the community understand why we need the Nickel and why we need them to vote for the Nickel in November.”
“We hope it provides answers to some of voter's questions,” she added.
The second page of the site seeks to explain why the Christian County Board of Education voted to implement the tax in February. A petition to recall the tax was brought forward after the vote and gained the required amount of signatures, placing the tax on the November gubernatorial election ballot.
According to the website, the tax is required by the state.
Kentucky has made it clear they will not give financial help to districts unless they pass the nickel tax,” the website states. “If our community votes for the nickel, we will be eligible for additional state funding.”
The district has routinely expressed the need to replace the two high schools’ academic buildings. Hopkinsville High School’s academic building would be the first to be replaced if the district received the money from the tax.
The website states that the district needs $146.2 million in unmet funding needs, as confirmed by the Kentucky Department of Education. Based on the current tax rate, the district is only available to address $15,730,000.
“The Nickel Tax would bring in approximately $2 million dollars per year in local taxes that would be restricted to renovation and new construction,” Gemmill said. “Additionally, the state is expected to provide an additional $1.2 million in equalization funds if, and only if, the Nickel passes.”
The tax is around 5.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. The website breaks it down in a few different categories. For example, if a Christian County resident has $25,000 in property value, their yearly estimated tax would be $13.75.
“No one likes to pay taxes, but our schools can't run without them,” the website states. “There are 172 school districts in Kentucky. Christian County has the 8th lowest tax rate of them all.”
The website also has a section on combating perceived myths about the tax. Part of that section explains that although the nickel tax won’t cover the entire $146.2 million in unmet funding needs, it raises the bonding potential of the district.
According to the website, passing the nickel tax would raise the district’s bonding potential from $15,730,000 to $51,785,000. With state equalization funds, that number jumps to approximately $63 million, Gemmill said.
The money raised from the nickel tax can only be spent on facility construction or renovation. KDE has told the district that renovating the schools will cost too much and new construction is the only option.
“(The tax) will allow the district to build a new academic building at HHS, which is in the worst shape, and as existing bonds are paid down, to build a new academic building at CCHS in five years or so,” Gemmill said.
In addition to launching vote-for-our-schools.com, CCPS will also be holding forums about the tax, handing out yard signs, going door-to-door to educate the county and sending mail-outs, according to Gemmill.
Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or email@example.com