LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Laurel County Board of Education held a meeting Wednesday night to vote on setting the 2014 tax rates.
“I’d like to recommend setting tax rates under House Bill 44 with a 4 percent revenue increase for real and personal, with exoneration at 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value. I’d like to set the vehicle tax rate to 46.3 cents per $100 of assessed value and set utility tax at a 3 percent rate,” Superintendent Doug Bennett said.
Despite mixed feelings among board members, the tax increase passed with a 3-2 vote.
Board chair Joe Schenkenfelder and board members Charles “Bud” Stuber and Tommy Smith all voted yes.
“I’m going to vote yes because the funding would keep other programs in place and keep them going in the direction they’re going,” Schenkenfelder explained prior to the vote. “It will help fund the readiness center. It’s going to be required to get the appropriate people in the right positions and it will create opportunity for our children.“
“I think that’s what the school system needs. I think it’s best for the district itself, even though I personally don’t want this,” Stuber said. "I pay taxes, too, but I still feel this is what is best for the school district and that’s what I was elected to do, what’s best for the school district.”
“I’m going to vote 'yes' myself, largely for the same reason Bud (Stuber) said,” Tommy Smith said. "Plus, we had staff we had to let go this year and next year we’ll be looking at teachers. I don’t want to see 40 students in our science and math classes as there would have to be."
Board members Ed Jones and Jeff Lewis voted against the tax increase.
“I’m going to vote 'no' on this, “ Jones said. “Although I’m very well pleased with our programming and I think we have a very bright outlook for our future, particularly in the career readiness center, I think the timing is not good for a lot of folks. On my drive up here from my office, I counted 27 vacant properties. That’s not a very good sign of prosperity in our area, so I’m going to vote no."