The Russellville Independent school board had a long special-called meeting Tuesday night to discuss the options of raising property taxes for the upcoming year.
“We met for an extensive amount of time,” Russellville school superintendent Leon Smith said. “We spent a lot of time discussing what we could and couldn’t do.”
After much discussion, the board voted unanimously to raise the property tax to 77.4 cents per $100 on real estate.
“That comes out to be about an $8 per year increase on a home valued at $100,000,” Smith said. “That’s less than $1 per month.”
Last year’s tax rate was 76.6 cents per $100.
Under state law, the school board could have raised taxes a maximum of 4 percent, but they chose not to do that.
“We looked at the 4 percent raise, and even though that was appealing, we decided that we needed to not take that amount,” Smith said. “The economy is tough right now for everyone and we realize that. Instead of taking the full amount, we’ll just be tightening our belt - as is everyone else in the community.”
The tax increase will generate about $85,000 in revenue for the school district.
Smith said the school board was hesitant to raise taxes at all, but it was unfortunately a necessity.
“They have increased the amount of money the local districts are required to pay for employees’ health care and retirement,” Smith said. “We need to make sure we stay a little ahead of the curve.”
School districts across the state have seen deep cuts to their funding as well. Smith said that no cuts are expected for the remainder of the year, but school districts have been forewarned of impending federal budget cuts next year.
“At this time we’re not aware of any cuts that will come this year, but they are talking about cuts at the federal level starting next year,” Smith said. “We’re starting to look at some of the things we can do now for next year if those cuts happen so that we will have funding available.”
The Logan County school board was scheduled to have a meeting Thursday night to talk about their tax increase.
Logan superintendent Marshall Kemp has said his district will looking at taking the full four percent increase, but because school taxes are so low already, it will not make a huge impact.
Last year’s tax rate for the county was just 37.7 cents per $100. Even by taking the full four percent increase, that will only raise Logan’s rate to 38.0 cents - which translates to about a $3 increase on a home valued at $100,000.
“The Logan County district is the 12th lowest in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Kemp said. “Since the money is not flowing from Frankfort, we have to fund the schools however we can at the local level. This is becoming more of a local responsibility than it should be.”