Christian County Public Schools’ leaders urged local residents Tuesday night to get behind a new nickel tax which could enable the board to gain the funds to build new academic buildings for both Hopkinsville High School and Christian County High School.
After 2003, the Kentucky General Assembly created additional funding sources for facility construction, as state SEEK funding began to dry up. The object of these additional funding sources was to address specific characteristics or needs of local school districts.
The nickel tax is a 5-cent tax on every $100 of taxable land and home properties in the county. The Facility Support Program of Kentucky will not help with any facility funds unless an original nickel tax levy has been enacted.
There are six categories of nickel taxes that can be levied by districts. Depending on student number growth, bonded indebtedness, current student enrollment in excess of available classroom space, facility plan requirements, debt service and renovations, each district can be eligible for different types of nickel taxes.
“The recallable nickel is the only nickel option the Christian County schools qualify (for),” said Jessica Darnell, CCPS director of finance.
A recallable nickel tax is not a required tax for a district. It is not imposed on citizens unless it is voted upon favorably by the school board.
“It is subject to partial equalization by state funds,” Darnell said.
Christian County Public Schools already has a nickel tax in place, which is partially equalized by the state. In the 2018-2019 CCPS budget, the nickel tax brought in $2,021,428, and the state contribution was $1,203,271.
Those funds are earmarked for construction projects — per the facility plan — or debt payments on previous and current projects. The district also has $773,311 in funds from SEEK dollars allotted for construction.
Of the almost $4 million in total construction funds available, around $3 million already goes to paying off previous bonded debts.
“You’re looking at about $1 million a year that’s available for construction,” Darnell said.
She added that when you look at the proposed amount to build new high-school facilities — which according to RossTarrant Architects Inc. would cost around $47 million — $1 million is not even a drop in the bucket.
How would the new nickel tax help?
In order to build new high-school facilities, the district would need to take out a new bond, which works a lot like a home loan.
When a family applies for a home loan, the bank looks at the family’s income and current debts. It uses those factors to decide how large of a loan the family is qualified for.
Currently, CCPS has a total bond potential of $15,730,000, and that number still isn’t close to the amount needed to build new high-school facilities.
More revenue into the district would raise the bond potential.
“By taking an increase in a new nickel … what does that bonding potential give our district,” Darnell said. “It increases our bonding potential to $54.7 million.
“So when we are looking at funding and revenue streams, that is where the funding would come from to meet the need of a new high school.”
Reach Jon Russelburg at 270-887-3241 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @newerajon.