hcs 300 300HOPKINS COUNY, Ky. (12/11/17) — Hopkins County Board of Education held a public hearing tonight regarding its proposed 3-percent utility tax.

A decision to impose the countywide tax was not reached. The matter was tabled after hearing feedback from the community.

In a packed house, board members heard from several disgruntled Hopkins County residents concerning the new tax.

One resident raised the question concerning money the county wasted on the scrapped tech center at Grapevine Road, and what the $400,000 recently recouped from a lawsuit is going toward.

Others voiced the tax would hurt individuals on fixed incomes and those already economically challenged.

Others said Hopkins countians are being taxed to death, with increases in property tax in addition to the Madisonville restaurant tax.

Randy Workman addressed the board and asked why the district “had to go right for 3 percent — why not one or one and one-half?”

Others in opposition to the proposal said the board had not disclosed specifics, and only generalized what the tax revenue would be used for.

Teresa Linton said she did her research, noting she had heard the reason for the increase was that most other counties have the tax, which is “not true.”

Linton said 22 counties in the state are not opting for a utility tax. She also explained that compared to other counties, Hopkins is at 14.2 percent per $100 assessed valuation, “more than any other county surrounding us.”

She also noted other Kentucky counties are charging less tax and still paying their bills. Linton challenged everyone to do their homework in being aware of other county schools and district expenditures.

Two other residents, local CPA Randy Franklin and Dr. Terry Brown, spoke in favor of the tax.

Board Chair Steve Faulk said the utility tax is under consideration after years of reduction in state education spending, noting since 2008, Kentucky has been the third worst state for cuts to per-student spending.

Faulk added the district has cut personnel costs and staffing, but still faces financial challenges.

Other information presented by the board:

• HCS equivalent tax rate is lower than 107 of the 173 Kentucky school districts.
• Major funding sources for HCS are SEEK, local property taxes, state and federal grants and community donations.
• SEEK revenue declined by $887,000 last year
• State grants are projected to decline 17.4 percent in 2017-18 costing HCS about $500,000.
• HCS has cut costs in decreasing gross salaries by $600,000 this year.
• Over the past five years, Central Office staff has been reduced by 12.2 percent.
• State pension reform is expected to have a $1 million impact on HCS.
• HCS has been historically below surrounding counties average on per pupil spending, but is a distinguished district and strives to remain so.

Faulk said, “Our students deserve the best education possible.” 

Board member J.W. Durst’s motion to table the matter was approved based on lengthy feedback from the community.

MPD Resource Officer Tyrone Gregory was present to assist with crowd control.

Tammy Holloway
SurfKY News Reporter

 

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